Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Physical Exercise: Its Benefits and What You May Have Overlooked

About 250,000 deaths a year in the U.S. are attributable to lack of physical exercise, according to estimates from the American Heart Association. More alarming are reports from several studies that at 25 in men, and after puberty in women, the muscles begin to deteriorate.

With this steady deterioration in our muscles, how are we able to maintain our upright pasture, walk, pull, push and lift objects well into our seventies? For one, normal muscle deterioration happens very slowly over our lifetime. For another, normal activities at home and at work ensure that we are using our muscles to slow down the rate of deterioration.

However, alone, normal activities are not enough to strengthen the muscles and reduce body fat to desired levels; otherwise heart disease and stroke would not be among the leading causes of death in the U.S. We need to do regular physical exercise to remain healthy and strong into our seventies and eighties.

Yet over 50% of people in the U.S. don't like doing physical exercise: the activity we need the most to boost good cholesterol (HDL) levels, blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and lower blood fat including cholesterol and triglycerides, in order to reduce our risk of stroke and heart attack.

Not only does physical exercise strengthens the heart muscles to more freely pump blood to all parts of the body, it also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low good cholesterol (HDL), high triglycerides and high blood sugar.

Several studies have shown that physical exercise also reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer. Other benefits include reduced risk of cancer to the lining of the uterus, lung and prostate.

Added to building muscle mass to displace fat, and keeping the body in a trimmed shape, physical exercise also regulates the body metabolism from slowing down when you are on a diet. This means you don't need to choose a starvation diet program to lose weight. With regular physical exercise, you can choose a normal sensible diet, and still lose weight safely.

Physical exercise allows you to take in deep breath to bring more oxygen into your lungs than normal breathing does. In this way, the lung muscles get a workout helping to clear the arteries that bring nutrients and oxygen to the lungs cells, to maintain proper functioning of the lungs to supply your body with adequate oxygen.

Regular physical exercise also slows down the loss of bone density as we age. This is especially important to the elderly who are more likely to suffer from hip fracture. But, the key to getting all the benefits of physical exercise without hurting yourself is to do regular  age-appropriate physical exercise, and that means consulting your doctor before starting any physical exercise program. 

Research has also shown that physical exercise increases the levels of the brain chemicals called norepinephrine and dopamine that can boost your mood, and help you retain memories of facts and events. It is no wonder why those who do regular physical exercise have a feeling of exhilaration and wellness, and a ready to take on the world attitude.

With the benefits of physical exercise before our eyes, why doesn't everybody get on with doing physical exercise daily; especially when the evidence shows we have nothing to lose. The reason many people don't is that for the past 50 years, we have trained our bodies to accept a lifestyle forced upon us by the requirements of making a living in a modern world.

Most of our jobs involves sitting for long hours behind desks talking on the phone, or staring at computer screens. Modern appliances and equipments have also ensured that we do less walking and less physical movements when doing our tasks at home and at work. The reduction in physical activities means using our muscles less, and the less the muscles are used, the higher the rate of deterioration.

In the end, difficult as it may seem, you will have to make the choice to start doing regular age-appropriate physical exercise, after talking with your doctor, to tone and strengthen your muscles including your heart and lung muscles, if you want to remain healthy and strong into your eighties and nineties.

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