In terms of physical condition, the word ”exercise” refers to any activity with (too) much movement from which you are out of breath and sweat if you are energetically engaged.
Gardening or washing the car can be an ”exercise”, as well as playing football or riding a bicycle, provided it is done vigorously enough.
There is a justified physiological reason why physical activity is useful. Any muscle activity increases their oxygen needs. During physical exercises you need to breathe deeper in order to bring more oxygen into your lungs, and your heart (which is almost entirely the muscle) must hit harder and faster to pump blood into the muscles.
Heart diseases cause nearly a third of all deaths and high rates of serious illness in developed industrial countries. Therefore, an effective, adaptable heart, not to mention the strong lung, means that you probably won’t have any major health problems.
The more you move your muscles and the greater the number of muscles and joints you are using, the better your body condition is. The most useful are dynamic exercises (jogging or swimming, for example). Dynamic exercises strengthen your heart, lungs and muscles, if they make you sweat and breathless. They also maintain joint flexibility, thus protecting against disorder such as osteoarthritis.
However, ”static” exercises (such as weight lifting), which over-develop specific muscles, contribute little to improving your heart and lungs and overall condition.
Lack of exercise can favor the development of various disorders. Everyone who has been forced to stay in bed for a while, due to disease or injury, will know how his muscles weakened. Such inactivity can also be harmful to the bones and damage various organs (kidneys, for example). In addition, untrained muscles additionally strain other body parts (joints, ligaments) by overloading them.
Dynamic exercises are indisputably useful for the body. There are also psychic benefits. Many people are sleeping better after exercise, they feel great when they wake up, they are more energetic and they can concentrate better. Exercises also help in maintaining healthy weight. In short, excercises will make you feel better and live longer.
Essential elements of a good exercise program
A good excercise is an exercise that is useful to your body in the present condition. The following recommendations are based on the three tips for anyone who wants to start a successful exercise program.
1. Excercise twice a week, preferably three times, best at regular intervals and at a fixed time. Excercise every 20 minutes or longer with little or no pause. Choose the pace of activity which will make you sweat and make your heart beat – but not too intense excercies that will make you sick. It is always recommended to do warm-up exercises before main exercises.
2. You must choose the exercises you will enjoy and which you will be able to match with your plan. If you do not like sport, gardening and ”do it yourself” jobs in the house and around it are good, meaningful ways to stay active. Riding a bike and walking to work can be easily matched with everyday work. The most important thing is that you do not plan something that you don’t like to do.
3. Do not try to get into the shape fast; do not hurry. Start with light practices, just to feel mild tension and steadily increase your efforts during the first four weeks. If you are starting to engage in new sports, beware of excessive competitive urges. If you accept potentially very challenging sports games like squash, try to improve your own game rather than the results you achieve with your opponents.
And finally, another warning. If you are in one of the following categories, talk to your doctor before you start any type of activity:
– people over the age of 60, or people above 45 who have never tried any excercises (or tried, but very little) after the early adulthood
– heavy smokers (anyone who smokes more than 20 cigarettes a day)
– people who weight more than normal
– people who are being treated or under control due to long-term health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease.
– people with a ”weak” rating according to the fitness test (you can find it here)