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Why exercise is vital for survival

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Obesity is a leading cause of Non Communicable Diseases as well as low self-esteem.

“It is not the strongest who will survive, but those who can adapt well to the changes in the environment,” says great scientist Charles Darwin in his theory of natural selection and evolution which is well known as a  survival of the fittest. In twenty first century, our lifestyle has drastically changed from our ancestors. This change has both its pros and cons, but mostly it depends on how we react to changes.

Development of technology has made us lazy. We have machines for everything and as a result non communicable diseases (NCDs) became the leading cause of death instead of infectious diseases. For the first time in history, future generations are showing less assumed life expectancy than previous generations. Although the situation is pretty bad the solution is that we simply need to ‘move’. Yes, it’s all about being physically active.

Exercising is among one of most commonly misunderstood concepts. For instance, to obtain results, people think it is necessary to follow a painful routine. You may think running ten rounds around your swimming pool and then jumping in and swimming for one hour will bring you benefits. But research indicates that even twenty minutes of exercise per day will make a significant difference in your life. The secret is doing it everyday.

Lack of motivation is the main setback when it comes to following a continuous exercise routine. There is nothing that pushes you to go out and exercise. Fortunately there are some useful ways in which you can motivate yourself to become a more active individual. First of all you need to identify your motivation; for teenagers it could be showing peak performance in school sports events, adults could be more productive in the workplace targeting the next promotion, thus it will help to prevent NCDs.
Most women will pretty much do anything to have the ideal thin body to become more attractive and desirable. But you do not have to go through potentially dangerous plastic surgery to get the job done because you can literally reshape your entire body through exercise. Because looks matter in our current society and we associate looks with success, finding motivation isn’t that tough in the endeavor of exercising regularly.

You should choose exercise activities or sports in keeping with your targets, age, and physical fitness. Physical activities can mainly be categorized into two; namely aerobic activities and muscle strengthening activities. Aerobic activities are activities that make your heart beat faster and lungs work harder. Experts say that to gain health benefits, you should do 30 minutes a day of ‘’moderate intensity physical activity’, five days a week. But you do not have to do this 30 minutes at once. For example, walking or riding bicycle to work and back for 15 minutes adds up to a total 30 minutes.

Moderate intensity physical activity means that you get mildly sweaty, your heart rate raises a little, but you do not use your maximum muscle strength. Exercising this way, you should not experience pain in any part of your body. Examples for this type of exercise are fast walking, cycling, badminton or tennis. These types of exercises provide a sufficient workout. In some situations you need to do a little bit more.  For example, if your body mas index (BMI) is in the obese category and if you need to lose weight, you may need to follow up to 60 to 90 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity for five days per week to manage your weight.

Muscle strengthening activities are the activities that involve the major muscle groups in your body. These include lifting weights, climbing stairs, hiking, carrying groceries and weight training. A scheduled workout in a gym is the best for resistanse training, but there are household activities that have the same effect on the body. For example, you can climb stairs at home or you can go hiking with your friends to make it more interesting. By strength training, you can increase muscle and joint strength, so you could have more vigor for your day-to- day activities.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone density reduces and the bones become fragile. Weight bearing activities put pressure on your bones that stimulates bone making cells. This type of training strengthens bones. When your bones are stronger it reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing activities include weight-lifting, hiking, running, dancing and playing football.

Obesity is a leading cause to NCDs as well as low self-esteem. Being active can help you lose weight, because it burns off excess fat. Regular physical activity combined with a balanced diet is the best way to lose weight. Moreover, losing weight will take off excess stress from your joints and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.

Physical exercises are recommended not only for younger people. The demand for exercise becomes more important as you get older, especially to retain muscle tone, bone density and to avoid conditions such as osteoporosis. You should choose physical activities depending on your age and physical fitness. Start with warming up exercises and do stretching exercises to avoid any potential injuries. Initially, start with very low intensity exercise and gradually ‘raise the bar’. Older people should aim at activities that improve flexibility and balance as well. However as you get older, there are more chances for injury during exercise, so you need to follow exercises that are safe for you. For instance, walking, jogging and household chores or gardening are some of the activities that older people can do without any supervision.

Many researches have proven that exercising boosts brain function in so many ways. Norepinephrine production is promoted when the body is in active mode, a chemical that helps the brain deal with mental and physical stress in a positive manner.
Exercise releases endorphins that generate feelings of happiness and calmness. Studies have been conducted using clinically depressed patients and found that exercising is equally effective as medication. Therefore, physicians recommend exercise along with medication for people who suffer from depression. Exercise boosts memory and ability to learn new things because it increases the production of cells in hippocampus that is responsible for memory and learning. This may be the reason that children engaging in sports show better overall performance in school. Exercise also helps overcome sleeping problems. A simple exercise can be as effective as a sleeping pill, minus the side effects. It helps to regulate chemicals that control the sleeping cycle which tells the body that now is the right time to sleep.

However, taking the initial step is the most difficult. So set a goal for weight, waist measurement or any measurement, and number of days to work out because setting and working towards a goal will help motivate you to achieve that goal. Your goals should be practical and achievable. For example, if you have not exercised in a long time or you are a very inactive person, start walking for 10 minutes a day, three days a week. You can gradually raise the bar Choose activities that you enjoy, for instance if you like dancing you can join a dance class. This will expand your horizons as well. If possible arrange to exercise with friends or neighbors as it will help you keep an appointment. Once you start, you put the wheels in motion to create momentum. This is critical when achieving your goal. But for that to happen, you need to start. So stop finding excuses and start exercising from today and never look back. You will be thankful that you did.
(The writer is an undergraduate of Wayamba University)

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