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Old Thursday, October 16, 2008
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Default The importance of Exercise

The importance of Exercise

any people today are less physically active during their daily routine, due to the use of cars, labour-saving machinery, moving stairs, lifts, and so on.

As well, food is far more plentiful, varied, quick and easy to prepare, making it more difficult to keep the required energy balance. Energy input (food intake) becomes greater than energy output (activity) when we eat more than we need or use and an excess of energy soon translates into excess weight.

To correct this energy imbalance, it's important to maintain an effective level of activity. Exercise increases the rate at which your body uses energy (kilojoules) and burns up stored energy (fat), promoting weight loss.
Increasing your level of physical activity will not only decrease the amount of fat your body is carrying, it will also improve your overall fitness that is, the function of your heart and lungs.

Remember the following points:
  • When you exercise, your effort must exceed that of your normal daily activities.
  • As the exercise becomes easier, the intensity needs to gradually be increased so that a level of effort is maintained during the session.
There are two important types of exercise: toning and aerobic. Let's take a closer look at each of these.

Toning exercise
  • Improves muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Each muscle group is worked separately.
  • Movement becomes easier and muscles less flabby as they shorten and strengthen.
Aerobic exercise

This type of exercise makes your heart and lungs work harder and increases your metabolic rate. Examples of aerobic exercises are walking, running, cycling, swimming and dancing. Children engage in this type of activity naturally. When they play with friends outdoors or at school, they run jump, skip, climb and ride bikes.
Aerobic exercise:
  • Promotes weight (fat) loss.
  • Improves your muscle tone.
  • Works the large muscle groups in your arms/legs/trunk.
  • Increases your level of fitness.
  • Improves the functioning of your cardiovascular system ie. your heart and lungs.
How much exercise do I need?

To maintain or improve your fitness, you should exercise continuously at a steady pace for 20-30 minutes at least three times each week. To lose weight, however, you may need to exercise for up to 60 minutes four to five times per week. It may be more appropriate for some people to start with a shorter exercise period at more frequent intervals, depending on weight and fitness levels and build it up. You just need to start being more active than you are at present to start burning up existing fat while improving your fitness.

Important note: never commence an exercise program without medical guidance, especially while you are overweight. Be guided by your doctor's advice.

All material is Media 21 Publishing, and originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of GoodMedicine magazine.
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