Benefits of Physical Activity
What is our body’s worst enemy?
The sedentary lifestyle, of course.
Now, think that the human species evolved to improve especially in one thing, the ability to walk and standing in upright position and, what we are doing in the modern age is actually the opposite thing… it sounds weird, right?
We are not born to be inactive: Even with moderate movements (but regular) it helps to improve the quality of life indicators and it has positive effects on physical and mental health of a person.
On the contrary, poor physical activity is associated with most common types of disorders/diseases today such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart attack, myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure) and in some cases, cancers.
According to the “Centers for disease control and prevention”, these are the most beneficial effect of physical activities:
- Control your weight.
- It reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and it prevents hypercholesterolemia and hypertension by reducing the levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.
- it improves glucose tolerance and reduces the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce your risk of some cancers such as colon and breast.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult it prevents and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, as well as musculoskeletal disorders.
- Increase the lifespan: The regular practice of some form of exercise prolongs life (reducing the risk of disease) and improves its quality.
- Improve your mental health and mood: it reduces the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression and ease the management of anxiety and stressful situations. Improvement of the general welfare and avoids the anxiety (physical activity is highly recommended in cases of depression).
- It relieves tension, increase self-esteem, to feel better and more confident about themselves. Furthermore, It also produces increased secretion of endorphin (the stress-fighter hormone), which provides pleasurable sensations.
- It reduces the risk of premature death, especially the ones caused by heart attacks and other heart diseases
- It prevents, especially among children and young people, risk of bad behaviors/habits such as use of tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy diets and violent attitudes by promoting psychological well-being and improved “self-esteem”.
- It improves digestion and regulates bowel habits, which makes us feel more vital.
- Adjust your sleep: Exercise to improve sleep quality and, consequently, mind sharpness.
These are all the benefit we can have only from a nice and regular physical activity (for instance a nice daily walk plus some gymnastic in total-body without using any weights). Now let’s see what happen in addiction if we train more efficiently and consistently with advanced methods such as interval cardio and/or weight training:
• Strengthens joint capsules: the movement makes stronger our joints against sprains and dislocations, acting on the affected muscles and ligaments.
• Keep the physiological mobility: it is necessary to keep the joints mobile and use them to their maximum potential. If the joints remain motionless for a long time (trauma, orthopedic casts etc.), the recovery of their mobility is sometimes slow and painful and requires some special forms of movement (rehabilitation).
• Increase the total cross section: The muscle, if it has to work to overcome the resistances, it becomes larger and thus increases its strength (hypertrophy). On the contrary, If it’s rarely used, it loses volume, leaving room for extra layers of fat or bone.
• Shape and form: The muscle changes its shape and its length according to the job which it’s subjected. If the movement requires the maximum extension, its core assume an elongated shape; vice versa, if the exercise requires incomplete movements or static contractions, the muscle fibers develops in a more thick and short version (typical example is the calf of the cyclist).
• Increase the ability to sustain prolonged efforts: When the muscle is subjected to a moderate work but with long duration, it increases its capillary action (increasing number of channels that carry oxygen) and so, by having more oxygen in its fibers, the muscle is more work-resistant.
• Increase the storage of energy substances, especially the storage of glycogen (the energy needed for muscle contraction).
• It improves the transmission between nerve impulses: The repetition of the same movements makes the transmission of nerve impulses faster and more accurately from the brain to the muscles, with a general improvement of the reaction time (will action), time-latency and coordination.
• It facilitates the removal of lactic acid after exercise.
• Lower respiratory frequency: Subjects who do physical activity and sports the amount of air inhaled (pulmonary ventilation) in one minute, at rest, is lower than in untrained subjects (due to greater transport capacity of the blood, which leads to an excellent utilization of oxygen in the tissues).
• Reduces recovery times: Who is trained is able to quickly restore the rhythm of his own breathing to normal after exercise.
• Increased Apnea time.
On the cardiovascular system:
• Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: (Increase of the volume and the thickness of the walls of the heart): It produces an expansion and a greater thickening of the walls of the ventricles (hypertrophy of the myocardium or heart from athlete).
• Increased stroke volume: there’s an increase of the volume of the internal cavity and muscle strength; the heart will pump more blood with each systole.
• Reduces the number of pulse (bradycardia): There’s a great working economy of the cardiovascular system that occurs after only a few weeks of training. The subjects used consistently to the practice of physical activity tolerate larger workloads than the sedentary subjects and reach peaks of over 200 beats per minute.
• Reduces recovery times: A trained subject returns faster to the resting heart rate and sometimes it reaches values around 36-40 beats per minute.
• It increases the capillarity: The heart of those who performs physical activity improves its nutrition conditions by increasing the number its capillaries.
The movement also causes great changes in the nervous system, which affect the body functions and improve the motor level of the subject.
• Refined sense organs: improves the quality of information, the transmission mechanism of the stimuli and the development of automation.
Which physical activity suits you best?
Now we know what are the difference between moderate and intense physical activity.
All those definition covers therefore not only sports, but also the work of those engaged in manual work and normal movements of daily living such as walking, cycling, gardening and housework.
Therefore, it is not really necessary to find a specific time dedicated to this. You can find the opportunity to make movement at anytime of the day by turning out the normal daily activities in an excuse to do a little exercise.
There is a level of physical activity that is suitable for each person and, In 2010, the WHO (World Health Organization) has nevertheless tried to give clear indications that apply to all, establishing the minimum amount of physical activity for three group types:
Children and adolescents*
- Should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
- Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.
- Should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.
- Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
- Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- For additional health benefits, they should increase moderate intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Those with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls, 3 or more days per week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, 2 or more days a week.
The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies between people. In order to be beneficial for cardiorespiratory health, all activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.*
Last but not least, a regular and consistent physical activity increases our immune system; in fact we have seen how people who play sports, get sick less than the sedentary people.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that a regular and consistent physical activity is definitely positive, but once you reach your limits with workouts, before increasing the work load, you have to give time to your body to store it (the concept of gradually increasing workloads), in order to stably create the adaptations… also from an immune point of view, of course.
So, what are you waiting for?
Written By Tony Pantano