Exercise and Fitness – The Benefits to Long Term Health
Medical science has dramatically increased the number of people aged over 50 in the last fifty years. However, technology and a 21st Century lifestyle has led to the expectation that today’s generation of children will be the first to die before their parents from natural causes!!
Diseases caused by modern living will lower the average age if nothing is done now.
That’s an astonishing conclusion, particularly when you think of the sheer volume of information we now have at our fingertips about health and fitness. The number of magazine titles we see on the newsagent shelves indicate an insatiable appetite to improve our health and fitness and the internet provides all the information we could ever need.
It seems that we either take our current health for granted, or if we find that our current level of health is not that great, we think that it’s too late to do anything about it. The trouble is poor health and illness go hand in hand, e.g. being overweight leads to obesity, which leads to diabetes etc.
The benefits of exercise, which include strength training, CV training and flexibility training, are endless and include:
Reduces resting heart rate
Increases metabolic rate
Increases muscle strength
Increases bone mineral density
Improves joint stability and strength
Reduces body fat
Helps control obesity
Increases confidence and self-esteem
Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
Increases joint range of motion
Reduces muscle pain and tension
The list goes on.
Let’s be more specific, how can exercise improve our long term health?
From our mid-30’s, our bone health starts to deteriorate. From this age bone density decreases, when we lose around 0.5 – 1% of our bone mass each year, which can lead to osteoporosis in later life. This makes bones more fragile and increases the risk of bone fracture.
Exercise can increase bone density. Activities such as resistance training and running, which sends force down the shaft of the bone strengthens the bone.
Cardiovascular Disease and High Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular (CV) disease occurs when our coronary arteries become partially blocked, causing a disruption to the blood supply to our heart. A total blockage leads to heart attack!
High blood pressure is due to blood vessels losing a little elasticity.
Both CV disease and high blood pressure are also affected by lifestyle choices, e.g. poor diet (high in saturated fat and salt), sedentary etc.
Exercise, both resistance and CV training, reduces the amount of work the heart has to do, reduces blood pressure and stress levels and makes daily activities easier to carry out. Research suggests that regular exercise reduces the risk of high blood pressure by 19 – 30%
Exercise both prevents and rehabilitates CV disease and high blood pressure.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and generally occurs in adults over the age of 40. It is a degenerative bone disorder causing pain and affecting joint mobility.
Exercise has many benefits to sufferers of osteoarthritis It reduces pain, slows down the progression, reduces the possibility of developing other conditions from deconditioning, e.g. weight gain which would increase strain on joints and increases independence among others.
Type II diabetes in particular is increasing dramatically worldwide. Whilst type II diabetes had until only recently been diagnosed in adults after the age of 30, it is now being seen more and more frequently in children!
Exercise can be very good at reducing the risk of type II diabetes through bodyfat reduction, it improves the action of insulin and along with changes to a sufferer’s nutrition, exercise has the potential to reverse type II diabetes.
We have tried to show here why regular exercise goes far beyond what you look like and how you feel today. It affects the quality of our life, throughout our entire lives.