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Exercise

Exercise

13 years, 5 months ago

1719  0
Posted on Dec 30, 2005, 8 p.m. By Bill Freeman

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Until the time of the Industrial Revolution, strenuous physical activity was an integral part of daily life-in work as well as in religious, social, and cultural expression. When the Agricultural Revolution diminished workrelated physical activity, the healers, and philosophers of the time questioned whether long life and health could be maintained with a decreased level of exercise.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Until the time of the Industrial Revolution, strenuous physical activity was an integral part of daily life-in work as well as in religious, social, and cultural expression. When the Agricultural Revolution diminished workrelated physical activity, the healers, and philosophers of the time questioned whether long life and health could be maintained with a decreased level of exercise. In 1953, almost 60% of American children failed to meet even a minimum fitness standard for health (compared to less than 10% in Europe). When John Kennedy  became president in 1961, he convened a conference on physical fitness and young people and established what would eventually be called the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In the mid-1970s, popular interest in the benefits of exercise sprouted a widespread enthusiasm for the benefits physical activity in preventing and treating a variety of conditions that continues to this day.

Despite the government’s efforts to educate the public about the benefits of exercise, a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March 2001 revealed that just 25% of adults met government recommendations for physical activity in 1998. Lack of physical inactivity is the second most serious threat to health in developed countries, and a sedentary lifestyle is one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the percentage of adults living in developed countries who are sedentary "or nearly so" has reached an astonishing 60-85%. The current lack of enthusiasm for exercise is also a problem in the younger generation, as research suggests that less than one-third of young people are active enough to benefit their present and future health and wellbeing.

ROLE FOR ANTI-AGING:

Just 30-minutes of exercise each day can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease by 50%, according to WHO. Research has shown that three 10-minute burst of activity are just as beneficial as one long session, so the recommended daily quota could be achieved simply by working to and from work and by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. According to the WHO, such simple measures to incorporate 3-minutes of exercise into our daily life could halve our risk of developing inactivity-related disease such as obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Moderate exercise boosts the function of Tcells and B-cells. In fact, within minutes of starting to exercise, the body’s white blood cells and natural killer cells increase and, depending on the intensity and duration of activity, remain elevated for a few seconds to hours after exercise ceases. Regular stimulation of the immune system may have a cumulative effect.

It takes 12-weeks of regular exercise to become "fit"- meaning that your oxygen capacity has improved. It takes only one brisk walk, however, to improve your healththat is, to lower indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. Exercise reduces the risk for stroke, lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL, lowers the risk for sleep disorders, improves mood, boosts creativity, preserves mental acuity and maintains muscular strength, flexibility, and balance. In addition, new research suggests that exercise may improve mental abilities in the elderly, and possibly protect against mental decline. While results of another study found that women who exercise for an hour a day are 19% less likely to develop postmenopausal breast cancer.

On the other hand, high-intensity exercise can affect the immune system in an adverse way. Overtrained athletes may be at increased risk of infection because antibodies in the blood and mucosal surfaces (such as eyes, nose, upper and lower respiratory tracts, gastrointestinal tract, and genitourinary tract) are suppressed. An "open window" of three to 72 hours after high-intensity exercise leaves the body more vulnerable to illness. Thus, moderate, regular exercise is the most beneficial for all-round health.

THERAPEUTIC DAILY AMOUNT:

The US Centers for Disease Control recommends a half-hour of moderate exercise, like walking, five times a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, three times a week.

SIDE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS:

Very overweight people, pregnant women, and people with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and infections should consult their doctor before starting an exercise program. Never exercise when you are unwell. Exercising when you have the flu can be fatal.

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