“The wise, for health, on exercise depend…” from Honoured Kinsman by John Dryden, Poet Laureate, 1660
Numerous recent studies have confirmed what most of us suspected… that as a nation, we are not as fit as we should be. One study estimated that over a third of men and two-thirds of women find it difficult to sustain a brisk walk up a gentle slope. In fact, over 50% of women aged 55-64 years are not fit enough to walk briskly for 15 minutes on level ground! We’re also fairly slothful… 7 out of 10 men and 8 out of 10 women fall below their age-appropriate activity level necessary to achieve a health benefit. Add to these facts that the number of people overweight is increasing, with almost half the adult nation being overweight, it would appear that we’re in pretty poor shape!
It’s a staggering fact that in Britain today, as in many industrialised nations, around 75% of all premature deaths, illnesses and disabilities are caused by unhealthy lifestyles. The way we live can seriously affect our health. Diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and cancers, the three most significant killers of our time have been associated with unhealthy lifestyles… poor eating habits, excessive drinking, smoking… and lack of physical activity.
A sedentary lifestyle…
· skeletal decalcification
· lower blood volume
· fewer red blood cells
· smaller muscle mass
· increased fat
· weaker heart
· more sluggish circulation
· slower metabolism
· poorer fitness
· less alert
· slower reactions
….all the signs of premature ageing!
We are all creatures of habit. As we go through life, we develop lifestyles and routines that become ingrained as our way of life. These are usually encouraged by family and friends and by the environment in which we live. To persuade people to change the habits of a lifetime to lead a more healthy way of life is difficult. To persuade people to take action before they become ill is a formidable task… and may be seen by some as an infringement of liberties.
One of the most effective ways to improve health and well-being is to lead an active lifestyle.
A wealth of scientific evidence confirms the substantial health benefits of regular physical activity…
· stronger heart and lungs
· better circulation
· stronger and firmer bones
· better flexibility
· increase strength and stamina
· better shape
· feel better
· helps you relax and sleep better
· more energy
· better self-image
Exercise has also been shown to prevent a whole range of diseases and disorders…
· reduced risk of heart disease and strokes
· better control of blood fats
· better control of BP
· improved immune system
· prevention of osteoporosis
· less backache
· less joint pains and stiffness
· better body weight control
· prevention of type 2 diabetes
· reduced risk of injury
· stress management
Exercise in the treatment of disease
Exercise is also now widely used in the treatment of disease, including:
· Coronary Heart Disease
· Peripheral Vascular Disease
· Chronic Lung Disease
· Abnormal Blood Lipids
· Type 2 Diabetes
· Kidney failure
Risk or benefit?
Exercise such as a brisk walk, swim or cycle ride exercise makes demands on your body to deliver more oxygen to your working muscles. Normally these demands present a reasonable challenge to your body and it responds and adapts very positively, giving you invaluable health and well-being benefits.
However, if your exercise is too severe, it may cause problems… muscle stiffness or soreness which can last for days… and sometimes more serious injuries and health risks.
For example, in a vigorous workout:
- Your heart may be beating at around three times every second and pumping out 5 gallons of blood every minute!
- Your blood may be flowing 30 times faster than at rest!
- Your lungs may be taking in 10 times more air than at rest!
- Your blood pressure may rise significantly
- the amount of oxygen used by your muscles may be 100 times greater than at rest.
These facts may help you to realise that exercise should not be undertaken flippantly, without due consideration for your health. So often we hear about people who suffer from doing too much, too early when they’re just not fit enough. Most certainly, the exercise of the wrong sort can be a risk to your health. But the benefits to your health of sensibly planned physical activity far outweigh the risks.
Some remarkable things will happen to your body as a result of REGULAR AEROBIC EXERCISE… such as walking…
- your heart and lungs will get stronger
- your blood circulation will become more efficient
- your blood fats, including cholesterol, will decrease
- you’ll be much less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke
- your muscles will become firmer, stronger and more durable
- you’ll grow new mitochondria in your muscles, enabling you to burn fat more easily
- your muscles will grow new blood vessels, helping them to work more effectively
- your immune system will improve, making you less likely to suffer from illness
- your metabolic rate will increase, not just when you’re exercising… but even when you’re at rest and asleep… so your body will burn more calories each day… making weight loss and weight control much, much more successful
- your stamina will improve, you’ll walk further in your 20 minutes
- you will have more energy, be more alert. and…
- it will help you get slim and stay slim
- you’ll feel better and look better
.. not a bad investment for 30 minutes a day of your time! … all within walking distance too!!
The message is, build your fitness slowly and safely so that your body will adapt in a positive and beneficial way.