The Importance of Exercise

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Exercise is an important part of keeping healthy. Without it, muscles waste and are replaced by fat, joints stiffen up, and breathing and circulation become less efficient. There is an increased risk of becoming overweight and of developing certain illnesses, especially heart disease. Exercise alone is not enough to get the body really fit. It has to be combined with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet and not overeating, smoking or drinking much alcohol.

Aspects of Fitness

Stamina, suppleness and strength are all different aspects of fitness. Presented below are the activities and their corresponding effects to the different aspects of fitness: A = Stamina; B = Suppleness; C – Strength

Badminton – A = *; B = **; C = *

Cycling – A = ***; B = *; C = **

Dancing (energetic) – A = **; B = ***; C = *

Football – A = **; B = **; C = **

Gymnastics – A = *; B = ***; C = **

Ice skating – A = **; B = **; C = **

Hill walking – A = **; B = *; C = *

Horse riding – A = 0; B = 0; C = *

Jogging – A = ***; B = *; C = *

Judo – A = *; B = ***; C = *

Roller skating – A = **; B = 0; C = *

Skipping – A = ***; B = 0; C = *

Squash – A = **; B = **; C = *

Swimming – A = ***; B = ***; C = ***

Tennis – A = *; B = **; C = *

Walking – A = *; B = 0; C = 0

Weightlifting – A = 0; B = 0; C = ***

Yoga – A = 0; B = ***; C = 0

Stamina

Stamina, or endurance, is the ability to keep doing something for a period of time without it becoming a strain. Even walking up a flight of stairs can be a strain for an unfit person and make their heart beat a lot faster than usual. In very simple terms, the fitter you are, the more exercise you can do without your heart rate rising substantially and the better you feel in general.

Muscle tone

Even when you are still, your muscles are not completely relaxed. Some of the fibers have to be contracted just to keep you sitting up. This slight state of tension is known as muscle tone. When people talk about “toning up,” they mean firming and strengthening their muscles by exercise.

What is aerobics?

Aerobic means “with air.” Aerobic exercise increases your ability to get oxygen round your body. To be aerobic, a sport has to be strenuous but not exhausting and you have to keep it up steadily and continuously (for at least 12 minutes at a time). Sports such as swimming, jogging, and cycling can all be aerobics. Ones like sprinting and squash are not because they require short bursts of energy. These sports are anaerobic.

During aerobic exercise, your body makes a steady demand for more oxygen and you breathe deeply and more fully. Your heart works harder and over a period of time this strengthens it and makes it more efficient. Your circulation improves, with your blood vessels becoming more elastic and new channels opening up. All this increases your stamina and helps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Getting tired?

During aerobic exercise your muscles get a lot of their energy from the glucose in your bloodstream. During intense exertion your heart and lungs cannot get glucose and oxygen round your body fast enough so your muscles convert their own glycogen stores without oxygen (anaerobically). At the same time a substance called lactic acid is produced. As this builds up, your muscles start to tire and ache. This is one reason you cannot keep the exercise up for long.

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