Exercise is something we all know we need to do to be healthy, but so few of us can be bothered with it, but just how important is exercise and how much benefit do we actually get from doing it?

Exercise is important to maintain good health.

Exercise is something we should strive to do regularly to keep our body healthy.

 

Most people associate doing exercise is something you do to control your weight, burn stored fat and to improve their overall fitness level (heart and lung fitness). Exercise will certainly do these things for you, but this is just the tip of the iceberg and avoiding exercise may lead to greater repercussions than expected. There is no justifiable excuse to avoid exercise. We can find the time, and the cost of doing exercise can be a negligible one. There is a greater cost to pay if we choose not to exercise.

We are all different and it is advisable that any person who is about to engage in any sort of physical exercise routine should first seek medical advice prior to doing so. We should also seek the advice of a qualified trainer to ensure any routine is performed correctly and at a suitable pace to avoid injury and to gain maximum benefits.

Types of Exercise

Firstly, what are the different types of exercise we can engage in?

Endurance – Endurance training is typically a type of exercise which will increase your heart rate and will cause you to breath more deeply and rapidly. It is more commonly called aerobic exercise. This type of exercise targets your heart muscle, your lung function and your overall circulatory system health. It will improve your overall fitness. The fitter you are, the more easily you should be able to cope with everyday activities.

Strength – Where endurance training focuses more on the circulatory system and improving your general fitness level, strength training (also called resistance training or weight training) focuses primarily on your skeletal muscles. Your results will depend on the way you structure your strength workouts, but generally it will allow you to progressively increase your muscle tone, strength and size. The more strength you have, the easier it will be for you to perform everyday tasks.

Flexibility – Where strength training focuses on increasing muscle strength, flexibility exercises focus on stretching your muscles which will make your muscles more supple and flexible. Being more flexible will keep you limber. A limber person will have a greater range and freedom of movement. Flexible muscles are also less prone to injury. Below is a video which talks about the effectiveness of Active Isolated Stretching followed by a set of videos showing these stretches in action.

Which type of exercise should I focus on? Clearly, each type of exercise has benefits and ideally you should aim to have elements from each of them to gain maximum overall health benefits.

What are the Health Benefits of Exercise?

There are numerous benefits to be had from regular exercise. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable. Countless studies have shown physical activity will provide:

  • Reduced chance of suffering from diseases such as coronary heart disease
  • Reduced chance of having a stroke
  • Reduced chance of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced chance of developing some cancers
  • Reduced chance of developing osteoarthritis
  • Reduced chance of suffering from stress and depression
  • Reduced chance of suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Reduced chance of suffering an injury
  • Reduced chance of being overweight and more chance of being a healthy weight
  • Reduced chance of having high blood pressure
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • An improved sleep at night
  • An increased chance to remain active throughout more of your life
  • A healthier, longer, happier life, making you feel and look physically and mentally better
  • An overall reduced chance of an early death

A person who lacks exercise from their life will generally have an increased chance of the reverse of all these benefits. Exercise will substantially lower your risk of suffering from many of the major illnesses that affect so many individuals every day.

What are the Requirements to Gain these Benefits?

The main benefits will be derived from regularly carrying out elements of each of the three types of exercises mentioned above. There are probably a number of different opinions on how much of which type of exercises you should target so this represents a guideline for an average individual aged 19-64. If you want to perform aerobic activity of a moderate intensity (something that will raise your body temperature and pulse rate and cause you to breath faster, such as power walking, bike riding, racket sports, etc) then aim for approximately 150 minutes per week along with at least 2 days of strength training that will work all your major muscle groups. Incorporate stretching exercises before and after each session of aerobic and strength training routines that you do. Alternatively, if you want to do aerobic activity of a more intense nature (something that will cause your pulse rate to rise quite significantly and will make you breathe hard and rapidly to the point of only being able to say a few words before having to stop for a breath. These will include activities such as running, jogging, swimming, fast bike riding and aerobics etc) then aim for 75 minutes per week along with at least 2 days of strength training that will work all your major muscle groups (once again including your stretching exercises before and after each session you do). And, of course, you can do a combination of the two that includes a mix of both moderate and intense aerobic activity along with the strength training.

Best Choice of Activity

There are so many aerobic and endurance activities to choose from. Which are the best ones to do to get maximum benefit for time spent? High intensity interval training is something which may be worth considering as your primary form of exercise.

This type of training involves performing a physical action (such as sprinting) at a very high intensity level for a relatively short period of time, immediately followed by a shorter period of a resting, low level intensity. This high, low intensity level cycle is repeated only a few times. The amount of cycles and time performing the intense section and the rest section will depend on your current level of fitness, but these can be altered as your fitness level improves. As a guide though you may want to target a 30 second high intensity burst (if done properly, you should be gasping for breath and feel unable to continue for a few more seconds) followed by a 90 second period of recuperation (this is not complete rest but maintaining the exercise movement at a low enough level to recover) working towards doing 6-8 reps. Work on reducing the recuperation period as and when your fitness level allows. You should be able to complete the workout in around 20 minutes. Don’t forget to warm up and stretch prior to the workout followed by a cool down and stretch at the end of the workout. Exercising in this manner may be the most efficient and effective way to exercise. This type of exercise will allow you to tap into an additional level of benefit you might not get from a more basic workout such as boosting the highly beneficial human growth hormone. This is working out on steroids! Research has shown that if you follow this type of training exclusively, you may get benefits that exceed what you get from traditional endurance training spending much less time doing it, therefore, reducing the amount of time and frequency you need to spend each week exercising to obtain the same or better returns. 2-3 times a week should be ample (spacing the workouts out over the week). Don’t waste your rest days in between. These days can be spent doing your strength and flexibility training and maybe some traditional cardio workouts for variety. Keep variety in your workouts to prevent any plateaus in your progress. However, it is something which should be considered as a more advanced workout and will not be suitable for some individuals. If opting for this type of training, it should be started gradually after reaching a moderate level of fitness first. Ultimately you must listen to your body and take responsibility for what you are capable of doing safely.

To summarise, high intensity interval training promotes improvement via the adaptation principle. Increases in cardiovascular efficiency and increases in the ability to tolerate lactic acid build-up will lead to improvements in endurance, performance and speed. High intensity intervals will burn more calories than a traditional prolonged moderate intensity workout. Additionally, more fat is burned during the rest period after the workout than moderate exercise. The process of working out in your anaerobic zone leads to a healthier heart and greater fitness improvements than moderate exercise. Muscle mass is preserved more readily in high intensity routines than prolonged moderate exercise. It naturally raises HGH (Human Growth Hormone) levels. HGH is very beneficial to the body and is considered to be the “Fitness” hormone and is considered to help slow down aging, decrease body fat, burn more calories, increase muscle mass, raise energy levels, give a better overall quality of life and more.

Final Word

Exercise will give you numerous health benefits. So much more can be written on the importance of exercise due to the number of important things it does for our health. This is just a short summary of some of the main benefits exercise does for our body. However, these may be somewhat lessened if the food you consume is not of a healthy nature. There is only so much exercise can do for you, but ultimately, overall health is dependent on a number of factors all working together to achieve the best results. Click HERE to find out more about all the other elements which will combine to obtain overall better health.

We hope this information has proved to be useful in conveying the importance of exercise. Please leave any comments via the contact us page with any of your experiences, good or bad, from using the information contained on this site. Exercise Comments.

 

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