Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health or wellness. It is performed for various reasons. These include strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance and for enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent the "diseases of affluence" such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, and can even augment an individual's sex appeal or body image, which again is also linked with higher levels of self-esteem. Childhood obesity is a growing global concern and physical exercise may help decrease the effects of childhood obesity in developed countries.
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is characterized by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the inner lining of arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It also contributes to other risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, a low level of HDL ("good") cholesterol and diabetes. Even moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer on most or all days.
Why is exercise or physical activity important?
Regular aerobic physical activity increases your fitness level and capacity for exercise. It also plays a role in both primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Regular physical activity can help control blood lipid abnormalities, diabetes and obesity. Aerobic physical activity can also help reduce blood pressure.
How can I improve my physical fitness?
Programs designed to improve physical fitness take into account frequency (how often), intensity (how hard), and time (how long). They provide the best conditioning.
The FIT Formula:
F = frequency (days per week)
I = intensity (how hard, e.g., easy, moderate, vigorous) or percent of heart rate
T = time (amount for each session or day)
The Benefits of Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:
• Control your weight
• Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
• Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
• Reduce your risk of some cancers
• Strengthen your bones and muscles
• Improve your mental health and mood
• Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you're an older adult
• Increase your chances of living longer
If you're not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you're afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.
Start slowly. Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don't usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. That's why it's important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.
If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum Guidelines, try to do as much as you can. What's important is that you avoid being inactive. Even 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.
The bottom line is - the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt.
Nutrition and Physical activity
Proper nutrition is as important to health as exercise. When exercising, it becomes even more important to have a good diet to ensure that the body has the correct ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) whilst providing ample micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), in order to aid the body with the recovery process following strenuous exercise.
Proper rest and recovery are also as important to health as exercise; otherwise the body exists in a permanently injured state and will not improve or adapt adequately to the exercise. It is necessary to refill the glycogen stores in the skeletal muscles and liver.