Sunday, 15 June 2014

Benefits of Fitness



Fitness has become the new age mantra and everyone seems to be talking about it. The concept of health and fitness is no longer confined to medical arena. With increasing longevity, both young and old want to lead a healthy lifestyle.

So, what is fitness?

Fitness is defined as one’s ability to perform everyday tasks with alertness, and have sufficient energy to enjoy leisure activities and respond to emergency.

Components of physical fitness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength, power & endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
Dumbells for muscle strengthening
What are the incentives for remaining fit?

Regular exercise not only helps you to remain fit, but also reduces the risk of many diseases. If you are older, being physically active improves your ability to perform everyday activities and reduces the risk of falls. Benefits of regular physical activity are given below.
  • Cardiovascular disease – regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Your blood pressure comes down and cholesterol level improves with regular exercise.
  • Weight management – available scientific evidence shows that regular exercise can help you to maintain optimum weight. If you are obese or over weight, a combination of diet and exercise can help you lose weight.
  • Mental health – research indicates regular exercise can reduce anxiety and risk of depression. In addition, being physically active can help you sleep well.
  • Diabetes – if you exercise regularly, your risk of developing type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol level) reduces. If you already have type II diabetes, you can keep your blood sugar level under control by exercising regularly.
  • Osteoporosis – as you age, your bones become weak. Research shows regular physical activity that strengthens muscles and bones can slow the loss of bone mass.
  • Cancer – according to scientific research, physically active individuals have a lower risk of developing certain cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer.
  •  Longevity – scientific evidence shows that being physically fit increases your chances of living longer, by reducing your risk of developing several chronic diseases.
Each and every one of you can benefit from regular exercise irrespective of your weight, age, sex or race.

How much exercise do you need?

The amount of exercise you need depends on your age.
  • Children and adolescents (6 to 17 years) require one hour of moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity exercise every day. It would be beneficial to perform muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities during exercise time, for at least three days a week.
  • Adults (18 to 64 years) need half an hour of moderate-intensity exercise every day for at least five days a week, along with muscle strengthening exercises on two or more days every week.
  • Older adults (65 years or older) with no limiting health problems require at least half an hour of moderate-intensity exercise every day for five days a week, along with muscle strengthening exercises on two or more days every week. 
Activity
Example
Aerobic activity
Activity that involves the movement of large muscles for a continued period of time
Muscle strengthening exercises
Activities that increase muscle mass, strength, power and endurance
Aerobic activity of moderate-intensity
Brisk walking
Aerobic activity of vigorous-intensity
Running, jogging

How to get started?

Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before starting an exercise program. Begin your workout with a warm-up routine, and end the session with cool-down stretches. Remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after exercise. Though brisk walking is a safer form of exercise for most people, you may need expert guidance to perform muscle strengthening exercises.

Reference: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone. March 30, 2011. 

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