Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is physical activity a matter of life? You bet it is.

Why Physical Fitness?

Although the most opportune time for developing lifelong fitness habits is in the childhood years, it is in the late teens and early twenties that men and women develop a fitness consciousness. At this stage in life you have reached physical maturity; your body is at its natural peak of physiological efficiency and health. However, observe friends in their late twenties and early thirties. In many of them this natural fitness has begun to disappear. Lack of exercise is beginning to show its effect. An increase of body fatness, a loss of muscle tone, and a lessened breathing capacity are some of the obvious signs of physiological deterioration. These middle-aged characteristics begin to reveal themselves in many Americans in their mid to late twenties. Unfortunately, our bodies are not programmed to stand the stress of sitting or of being inactive.

Our modern life-style fosters unfitness. Many technological advances are intended to eliminate physical exertion from everyday activities. The automobile and television are key contributors to our sedentary lifestyle, and we have become accustomed to other automated energy savers: elevators, riding lawn mowers, motorized golf carts, snow blowers and various remote control devices. The eighties brought us the home computer. Such advances enable us to carry out our everyday chores more easily. Microcomputers not only enable us to keep our home or business records in order but also provide hours of enjoyable play with computer games of many kinds. Or just surfing and chatting. However, the rapid repetitive movements required in manipulating the controls and/or keyboard does little for physical fitness.

Overeating, addiction and laziness are other detrimental characteristics of a sedentary life-style. At the same time, we live in a competitive society characterized by pressing domestic problems, business obligations and deadline tensions. All of these have an impact on the physiological systems of the body and appear to affect our state of health. Your emotions, nerves, glands, and mental state along with your heart, lungs, and muscles are all fused into a complex, wonderful organism -- your body. Thus, there is a dire need, more than at any time in the history of humankind, to seek out stimulating exercise that will offset the perils of modern living. In fact, working out regularly to maintain a high level of fitness enables you to enjoy the privilege of all our modern gadgets and our computers.

Many men and women feel that their daily work provides them with enough exercise for fitness. Running up and down stairs or standing all day at a job seems to be physical exertion. It is exertion, of course, but such limited activities do not use the lungs fully or provide adequate stimulation for the heart to produce a training effect. If normal, day to day activities leave you fatigued at the end of the day, then you need the increased energy and vitality that comes from regular physical exertion. You must use energy to gain energy. In other words, regular stimulation of the total body through vigorous exercise produces increased strength and endurance, characteristics associated with good health. These attributes cannot be acquired from sitting at a desk all day, watching sports on television, riding elevators, or snacking.

Now that inactivity has been recognized as a threat to physiological well being, some authorities have suggested that exercise may be the cheapest preventative medicine in the world. Researchers in medicine, nutrition, psychology, physiology, and physical education agree that exercise, properly performed, is necessary for maintaining functional physical fitness. No responsible health educator will ever suggest that exercise is a panacea. But it is clear that, just as we need food, rest and sleep, we need daily exercise for the maintenance of our physical capacities. Physical fitness is not an end in itself but a means to an end. It provides the basis for optimal physiological health and gives us the capacity to enjoy a full life.

Detriments to Good Health

Improper nutrition
Poor management of stress
Excessive use of alcohol
Drug abuse


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