Exercise

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Description

An in-depth report on the benefits and types of exercise.

Highlights

Overview
  • The combination of inactivity and eating the wrong foods is the second most common preventable cause of death in the United States (smoking is the first).
  • The American Heart Association recommends that individuals do moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.
  • No one is too young or too old to exercise.
Benefits of Exercising
  • Studies clearly show that exercise helps the heart, both by improving exercise capacity and reducing the risk of heart disease and premature death. In addition, studies report that even people with heart disease can gain important benefits from exercising, though they need medical clearance and special precautions.
  • The benefits of exercise include:
  • Decreased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
  • Decreased risk of colon and breast cancers
  • Decreased risk of diabetes
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis and fractures
  • Decreased risk of depression and dementia (memory loss)
  • A recent review of available studies has shown that exercise benefits patients at all stages of dementia, improving balance, mobility, and the ability to perform basic activities of daily living.
  • Aerobic exercise and resistance training, alone or in combination, improves blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Tips for Exercising
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout.
  • Warming up and cooling down are important parts of every exercise routine. They help the body make the transition from rest to activity and back again, and can help prevent soreness or injury, especially in older people.
  • When exercising, listen to your body for warning symptoms
Motivation:
  • Develop an interest or hobby that requires physical activity.
  • Adopt simple routines such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking instead of driving to the local newsstand, or canoeing instead of zooming along in a powerboat.
  • Try cross training (alternating between several types of exercises).
  • Exercise with friends.

Introduction

To enjoy a long and healthy life, everyone should make lifestyle choices that include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining normal weight. The combination of inactivity and eating the wrong foods is the second most common preventable cause of death in the United States (smoking is the first).

Most research on the benefits of exercise focuses on heart protection. Studies clearly show that exercise helps the heart. In addition, studies are reporting that even people with heart disease may gain important benefits from exercising, though they need medical clearance and special precautions.

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Evidence suggests that our genes evolved to favor exercise. In other words, during prehistoric times, if a person couldn't move quickly and wasn't strong, that person died. Those who were fit survived to reproduce and pass on their "fitter" genes. Some researchers believe that with our current inactive lifestyle, these genes produce a number of bad effects, which can lead to many chronic illnesses.

The benefits of exercise include:

  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
  • Decreased risk of colon and breast cancers
  • Decreased risk of diabetes
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Decreased risk of depression and dementia
  • Decreased body fat
  • Improved metabolic processes -- the way the body breaks down and builds necessary substances
  • Improved movement of joints and muscles
  • Improved oxygen delivery throughout the body
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Improved strength and endurance

In addition, exercise can help change other dangerous lifestyle habits. A 2007 review of existing studies found that moderate exercise, for as little as 5 minutes at a time, can help combat the nicotine withdrawal symptoms people have when they try to stop smoking.

No one is too

young or too old to exercise. The United States Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, nearly every day. However, vigorous exercise carries risks that people should discuss with a doctor. You should always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • A symptom you have never told your doctor about
  • Arthritis of the hips or knees
  • Blood clots
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Eye injury or recent eye surgery
  • Family history of a cardiovascular disease
  • Foot or ankle sores that won't heal
  • Heart disease
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hernia
  • High blood pressure
  • History of smoking
  • Infections
  • Joint swelling
  • Obesity
  • Pain or trouble walking after a fall
  • Shortness of breath

Fifty percent of all people who begin a vigorous training program drop out within a year. The key to reaching and maintaining physical fitness is to find activities that are exciting, challenging, and satisfying.

Recommended Exercise Methods

A few simple rules are helpful as you develop your own routine.

  • Don't eat for 2 hours before vigorous exercise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout.
  • Adjust your activity level according to the weather, and reduce it when you are fatigued or ill.

When exercising, listen to the body's warning symptoms, and consult a doctor if exercise causes chest pain, irregular heartbeat, unusual fatigue, nausea, unexpected breathlessness, or light-headedness.

Heart Rate Goal

Heart rate is the standard guide for determining aerobic exercise intensity. It is useful for people training at aerobic intensity, or people with certain cardiac risk factors who have been set a maximum heart rate by their doctor. You can determine your heart rate by counting your pulse, or by using a heart rate monitor. To feel your own pulse, press the first two fingers of one hand gently down on the inside of the wrist or under the jaw on the right or left side of the front of the neck. You should feel a faint pounding as blood passes through the artery. Each pounding is a beat.

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There are different types of heart rates.

Resting heart rate. The average heart rate for a person at rest is 60 - 80 beats per minute. It is usually lower for people who are physically fit, and often rises as you get older. You can determine your resting heart rate by counting how many times your heart beats in one minute. The best time to do this is in the morning after a good night's sleep before you get out of bed.

Maximum heart rate. To determine your own maximum heart rate per minute subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 45, you would calculate your maximum heart rate as follows: 220 - 45 = 175.

Target heart rate. Your target rate is 50 - 75% of your maximum heart rate. You should measure your pulse off and on while you exercise to make sure you stay within this range. After about 6 months of regular exercise, you may be able to increase your target heart rate to 85% (but only if you can comfortably do so).

Certain heart medications may lower your maximum and target heart rates. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Note: Swimmers should use a heart rate target of 75% of the maximum and then subtract 12 beats per minute. The reason for this is that swimming will not raise the heart rate quite as much as other sports because of the so-called "diving reflex," which causes the heart to slow down automatically when the body is immersed in water.

Target Heart Rates for a One-minute Pulse Count

Source: umm.edu

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