If I had a chisel I would set those words in stone.
Exercise helps keeps you healthy longer. It strengthens the immune system. Exercise increases your vitality making you look and feel years younger than if your lifestyle is sedentary. The benefits are far, far too many to list here, but you can follow some of the links in this post to find out more.
Exercise is a very broad term that means physical effort above resting levels, so there are countless ways to get some.
What exercise is best?
While all exercise is good for you, some forms are more beneficial than others.
Here are a few issues to consider:
The current consensus opinion among exercise science experts is that around 3 hours of moderate exercise per week is necessary to get noticeable health benefits.
These three hours can be broken up into smaller segments. Even little 10-15 minutes chunks of exercise support fitness when added together.
Here are a few ways to understand what the term "moderate exercise" really means.
- The Talk Test: If you can talk normally while you’re working out, then you’re not yet working at a moderate level.
- Sweat: Unless your environment is so hot that you sweat while resting, perspiration is a strong indication that you're exercising hard enough to get health benefits. Also note that wind and cold temperatures can reduce perspiration. So this rule requires some practical experience to apply effectively.
- Heart Rate Monitor: These sophisticated electronic devices offer an array of features to measure and report on various aspects of your exercise, including exertion.
- Moderate exercise uses approximately 50% of your aerobic capacity, or a 5 on a 1-10 scale where 0 is the level of effort of sitting and 10 is maximum effort.
In comparison to moderate exercise, vigorous exercise is unsustainable for more than a few minutes, except for persons with very high levels of fitness. At a vigorous level of effort, you can't speak normally, breathing is labored and sweating can be profuse.
The health benefits differ between moderate and vigorous exercise by a factor of two. For an equal amount of time, say 90 minutes, vigorous exercise produces twice the benefits of moderate exercise. In other words, you can get the same benefits of 90 minutes of moderate exercise in 45 minutes if you work at a vigorous level.
2. Health Benefits:
Science says the best form of exercise for health is cardio-metabolic, meaning that it works your muscles, heart and lungs.
Harvard Medical School published the spiffy chart below, which quantifies the cardio-metabolic benefits from various forms of physical activity, including tennis, raking the lawn and sex. (Click on the chart to make it bigger.)
From a health and fitness perspective, the aim of exercise is to increase both endurance and strength. Increase endurance by exercising moderately for at least 20 minutes at a time, or vigorously for at least 10 minutes. The key is to keep your heart rate elevated above resting for an extended period of time while you exert yourself.
Increase your strength by bearing weight or otherwise working against resistance, such as your bodyweight. It's important for good health to strengthen all of your major muscle groups, e.g. legs, core, back, chest and arms. The key is to fatigue your muscles. Just before you finish strength training you should need help to move the weight.
Who among us isn't pressed for time from time-to-time? That's a great reason to develop an active lifestyle.
An active lifestyle is often the easiest way of getting exercise. Integrating exercise into your lifestyle is also an efficient use of your time and money, aside from the health benefits.
By viewing the way you interact with your physical environment as a source of opportunity for exercise you will find that physical fitness and the health benefits that come along with it are easily attainable. Circumstances you once viewed as inconveniences can be seen, instead, as opportunities in disguise. For instance, having to park several blocks away from your destination or encountering a slow-to-arrive elevator when you're in a hurry gives you the opportunity to walk, and walking is one of the healthiest forms of exercise. The opportunities for enhancing your fitness are limitless if you choose to look at your environment as a gym. Plus, this outlook can reduce the stress associated with viewing these aforementioned situations in a negative light.
Safe exercises are better choices than those involving a high risk of injury because injury defeats the purpose of exercising for fitness.
Some risk can be mitigated by the use of safety equipement, training and discretion. Rock climbing, for instance, is fantastic exercise for both endurance and strength. But there's a saying, "There are old climbers and reckless climbers, but there are no old, reckless climbers." Apply the essence of that aphorism to your choice of exercise and you'll potentially spare yourself the pain that erases gain.
You should also consider your current state of fitness when evaluating potential exercise options. Running a half-marathon may sound awesome. But you have to be quite fit. So if you currently can't play with your dog without being winded you're setting yourself up for failure and possible injury.
Pushing the limits of your fitness is a way to expand them. But be realistic about where those limits are. As every exercise disclaimer says, "Consult your physician before you begin a new exercise." That's a bit extreme because risk-averse lawyers wrote it, but the core idea is valid. If you have concerns about how much strain your body can tolerate you'd do well to visit a doctor.
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The bottom line is that some exercise is better than none and more is better than less. That said, the absolute best exercise for you is the one that you are willing and able to do.
Regular exercise is a pillar that supports optimum physical condition. Exercise is amazing because you will often get more out of it than it seems you had to put into it and the benefits increase exponentially with time. Combine exercise with proper nutrition as part of your lifestyle and in short order you will be radiating vitality.
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BODY – MIND – SPIRIT