The Influence Of Physical Exercise Upon Health And Fitness. The Relationship Between Physical Activity, Vitality And Disease. Health Benefits Of Fitness And Wellbeing.

Health And Fitness

Health and Fitness

Physical Exercise

Nowadays many people are increasingly less active, resulting partly from technology having made our lives easier. Instead of walking or cycling we drive cars or travel by public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We sit down and entertain ourselves watching TV or computer screens. Fewer of us are employed in manual work, but instead have jobs that require little physical effort. Travel, housework, employment, shopping, leisure and most other activities are far less physically demanding than in contemporary urban environments.

We are far less physically active and burn off less energy than previous generations. Research has estimated that many of us spend at least seven hours every day sitting down - at work, on transport and in our leisure time. People aged over 65 spend approximately 10 hours either sitting or lying down each day.

Before the emergence of industrial and modern technological societies, people lived more physically active lives naturally through work and manual labor. This situation can still be observed in most developing countries and rural environments today. However, such 'natural' physical activity has rapidly declined in our contemporary urban lifestyles, and instead we must find ways to re-incorporate physical activities into our life schedules ourselves.

Inactivity And Disease

Physical inactivity has been described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence suggests that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is detrimental to your health. Familiar examples of sedentary behaviour include excessive time spent watching TV, using a computer or using the car for short journeys. Such behaviour is thought to increase the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.

According to the World Health Organization, lack of physical activity contributes to approximately 17% of heart disease and diabetes, 12% of falls in the elderly, and 10% of breast cancer and colon cancer.

If we are to restore and maintain our health, all age groups need to BOTH reduce sedentary patterns of behaviour AND increase levels of physical activity.We each need to find the time which enables us to incorporate more physical activity into our lifestyles in ways tailored to fit into our particular circumstances.

Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical exercise serves to enhance and maintain physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for numerous reasons including muscle and cardiovascular development, improving athletic performance, weight loss and maintenance, and also for the simple enjoyment of 'natural high' it gives us.

Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent the 'diseases of affluence' such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, strokes, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Exercise reduces levels of artery-clogging, LDL cholesterol and It also lowers blood pressure, thus reducing cardiac strain. Exercise raises insulin sensitivity, strengthens cardiac muscle, improves blood flow and lowers the risk of developing blood clots and strokes. It also improves mental health, helps prevent insomnia, depression, dementia, stress and Alzheimer’s disease.

In Addition, physical activity also helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, and can even enhance an individual's sex appeal and body image. Obesity is on the increase globally and physical exercise can help decrease some of it's effects in both children and adults alike. Health professionals often refer to physical exercise as the 'miracle' drug and if it were a pill it would be the most cost effective drug of all!! - offering more health benefits than any other medicine.

"A 30-minute walk every day can do more for your long-term health than all the efforts of a dozen doctors and their medication."

It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

If we wish to live healthy lives into old age, It's essential that we become more physically active.