An essential part of life and health - a breakdown of exercise

The essential element of exercise is movement.  Movement expends energy.  Movement is a fundamental characteristic for life itself. 

Exercises can be organized into three basic categories.  Firstly, there are aerobic exercises, or those exercises that challenge the cardio vascular and pulmonary systems primarily.  Secondly, there are resistance exercises, or those exercises that are intended to develop and maintain soft tissue integrity, primarily the muscles.  Lastly, there are stretching exercises that focus on joint integrity, range of motion and muscle tone.

Sedentary living is the enemy of health.  The sedentary lifestyle is the chief cause of a premature demise in health.  In general, people who are active, move around and challenge their bodies physically, live significantly longer, healthier lives than those who do not.

Sedentary lifestyles can lead to obesity, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, some forms of cancer, degenerative diseases and more.  People require exercise throughout their entire life. The need for exercise does not diminish with age.  In fact, exercise becomes more important to health with aging. People both old and young need to exercise regularly.

In the exercise hierarchy, aerobics are paramount. It is essential for cardiovascular strength and endurance.  In order for an exercise to be considered aerobic, it must significantly increase the heart rate for sustained periods of time. Aerobic exercise has been the focus of numerous studies. There is some evidence that aerobic activity benefits can be cumulative throughout the day on.  That is to say, using and moving the body more within the normal daily routine is likely to have significant benefits.

For example, using the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator is helpful.  Walking reasonable distances, rather than taking a car, bus or train is also helpful.  Every time a person pushes their body to move more, they are in a sense helping their bodies aerobically.  Laziness is the antithesis of aerobic exercise.

For true conditioning, more sustained episodes of aerobic activity are required.  This would involve raising the heart rate to 70 or 80 percent of capacity over periods of time between 20 and 40 minutes.  A formula has been devised to roughly calculate a person's aerobic capacity.  This formula is for healthy people, free from any serious cardiovascular problems.  Simply subtract your age from 220 and multiply it by a factor of 70 or 80 percent.  For example, a 40-year-old would subtract 40 from 220 and multiply it by .7 or .8; or 220 - 40 =180; 180 x .7 = 126. Therefore, a 40-year-old would have to sustain a heart rate of approximately 126 for a period of 20 to 40 minutes to receive aerobic conditioning benefits.

As a consequence of aerobic exercise, heart rates drop and blood pressures fall.  This occurs because the heart muscle and blood vessels become more efficient.  He's a sure sign this holiday healthier cardiovascular system.

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