We all know that exercise is good for you, what is less commonly known is why. The term aerobic means ‘with oxygen’ and exercising aerobically is the improvement of oxygen consumption by the body.
During exercise, glycogen is broken down to make glucose, which generates the bodies energy. The leads to weight loss and the maintenance, once achieved, the bodies optimum balance of weight and health. Cardiovascular problems are reduced with regular aerobic exercise, and as the body slows with age, the heart and lungs need to be at their peak later in life for longevity.
How do we know what is the best exercise and frequency? Most authorities recommend 20 minutes aerobic exercise, 3 times per week. Bear in mind, warming up, not only develops but primes the heart and lungs for exertion. A reduction in blood pressure and improved circulation makes you feel more alive and less lethargic, after recovery. Other improvements from aerobic exercise are :
Keeps excess weight away, which can lead to health problems such as Diabetes
Increases stamina – less fatigue, increased enjoyment from exercise.
Keeps viral illnesses at bay – by boosting your immune system
Strengthens the heart – it pumps harder and stronger, meaning circulation to parts of the body are raised.
Mood enhancer – aerobic exercise wards off depression and increases relaxation.
Aerobic exercise is, according to the Fox and Haskell formula (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/Exercise_zones.png), 70% of the bodies maximum effort. The maximum beats per minute the heart ‘should’ endure declines with age, hence it is easier to get fit and stay fit in your younger days, although not impossible in later life. We can see by the warming up with moderate activity runs the heart at around 50-60%. This will reduce the likelihood of injury and joint damage.
While jogging is a great aerobic exercise, the ill effects of pounding the tarmac on ankles, knees and hips from the shockwaves of every step are apparent. Correctly choosing specific running shoes and warming and stretching will reduce the affects. Swimming is the most ideal exercise and over low impact ones such as elliptical machines.
Stretching is far overlooked and commonly mistaken for warming up. Even without exercise, stretching each day, increases the mobility of joints and can help minimise back pain, which is common in later life.
The favoured stretch is the Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GWlJMSAlu4) type. This is an advanced stretch, whereby more focused stretching and contraction of each muscle/joint are performed. An example of this type is having an outstretched leg on a bar inline with your abdomen. It pulls the hamstrings, the gluteous maximus, standing calf, stomach, and lower back muscles.
Fitness needs to be a way of life. Insert it into your daily routine. Stretch in the mornings and set aside a regular plan for exercise, challenge yourself and maintain the body’s natural balance. Get fit and stay fit, to lift your mood, sense and to promote a longer life.