Exercise And Your Health

Exercise And Your Health

The physiologic effects of exercise on the human body are extremely complex. The benefits attributed to exercise have not always been supported through scientific documentation. Some of the beneficial effects of exercise have definitely been established and are achievable by anyone who exercises appropriately. Others benefits, touted by exercise advocates, usually do not occur, and at times, inappropriate advice has been given that can place one at risk for exercise induced illness or death. While it is easy to accept that exercise will improve health, scientific study has not clearly demonstrated that exercise will decrease incidence of disease (e.g. Coronary artery disease).  

Physical Working Capacity

To improve your physical working capacity of physical fitness, a regimen of regular (habitual) exercise training must be undertaken; the increase in physical capacity is the body’s adaptive response to the stress of exercise. All individuals can experience this benefit through the application of the appropriate type of exercise, performed at proper intensity, duration, and frequency. After training, the individual will appreciate an increased ability to exercise longer,at a greater intensity, and with less fatigue at submaximal levels. The increase in the physical working capacity is secondary to the ability of skeletal muscle to increase metabolic capacity, improve oxygen delivery, and changes in the autonomic nervous system regulation during exercise.

Can we equate an improvement in physical working capacity with an improvement in health or disease prevention? In most cases, we cannot. Take the example of the patient with chronic obstructive lung disease. Exercise may improve their work capacity, but has no effect on the overall severity of their disease. Furthermore, no net change in their overall probable course and termination of a disease  can be demonstrated. While a very level of physical fitness usually requires good health, an improvement in fitness does not insure and increased resistance to disease or a reduction in the clinical manifestations of disease. Becoming more physically fit and improving health status are interrelated but not synonymous. Those who remain physically fit maintain a higher level of health-awareness. With a good diet, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. These additional variables must be factored into the equation in the ultimate analysis of the effects of exercise on health.

Coronary artery disease is an area that has captured the most attention regarding the benefits of exercise. Some studies have already demonstrated that there may be some connection between those who are less active and the development of fatal, or near fatal, coronary events. To date, no clear cause and effect relationship has been demonstrated, yetthe correlationbetween level of activity (versus inactive lifestyles) and heart disease cannot be denied. A study is needed which examines the relative incidence in the development of coronary artery disease for those with an inactive lifestyle and those who maintain an active lifestyle.

In conclusion, no clear evidence exists which demonstrates exercise will reduce either primary or secondary occurrence of heart attack.


Exercise exerts an effect on carbohydrate metabolism. During exercise, glycogen stored in muscle tissue is utilized for energy. After exercise, the glycogen is replaced by an uptake of glucose from the blood. There also appears to be some increase in the sensitivity of insulinreceptors in the body. The “insulin-sparing” effect decreases the amount of insulin that is produced and probably reduces the risk of insulin deficiency (diabetes) developing with increasing age.

Osteoporosis, the loss of minerals (calcium) in the bone that occurs with aging is accelerated by inactivity (especially bed rest). Exercise cannot prevent all mineral loss in the bones, but it does appear to provide some benefit. Limiting the effects of osteoporosis, particularly in postmenopausal females will result in stronger and healthier bones.

 More physically active individuals tend to weigh less than their inactive counterparts. Lean muscle mass is also increased in the exercising group. The maintenance of more optimal body composition can result in an improved health status.

The psychological benefits from exercise include; less anxiety and depression, improved self-confidence, increased ability to cope with stress, and an improvement in sex-life.


Before starting an exercise program, consultation with your physician is necessary in some cases. Exercise can be potentially dangerous to your health if performed inappropriately, too frequently, or at an excessive intensity.

The risk of cardiac arrest from exercise is actually quite low, unless a history for underlying cardiac disease exists. Guidelines regarding the need for medical evaluation prior the onset vary according to the persons age, general health, and the specific activity which is to be undertaken. For inactive people who are about to begin a low intensity program, (walking ) a complete medical evaluation will be necessary for those who have been treated for heart, lung, diabetes, or musculoskeletal problems. Any increase in the level of activity will warrant a physician evaluation prior to proceeding. In general, if you are under age 40, with no history for heart or lung problems and no significant risk factors for heart disease, you may start an exercise program prior to obtaining a medical evaluation. For those under age 40, with the above health factors, and all over age 40, a physician’s evaluation is recommended prior to starting an exercise program.

Exercise type:

  1. Aerobic ( low or high impact )
  2. Stretching for flexibility
  3. Weight lifting (resistance for muscle tone)


  1. Maximum heart rate (MHR) = 220 – age
  2. Target heart rate = 60% to 85% MHR
  3. Moderate relative to capacity is 50-75%


  1. 25-45 minutes per session
  2. Target of 300 kilocalories per session


  1. Daily if intensity less 65% MHR and duration less 30 minutes
  2. Every other day if intensity more 65% and duration more30 minutes


  1. Warm-up, 3-5 minutes
  2. Conditioning, 15-40 minutes
  3. Cool-down, 2-5 minutes


  1. Keep track o performance with log book
  2. Start out slow, and build up intensity and duration
  3. Keep pulse in target range
  4. Evaluate program every 2-4 weeks

The warning signs:

  1. See you physician immediately
  2. Severe muscle pain
  3. Done pain
  4. Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort
  5. Leg pains exercise and relief with rest
  6. Unusual shortness of breath
  7. Dizziness, nausea, or vomiting

In summary, although being inactive does not appear to be the sole cause of any disease process, a physically active lifestyle will improve general health and help to slow many of the functional impairments that occur (naturally with aging.