A world famous physical educationist, Eugene Sandow, has very aptly said, ” Life is movement, stagnation is death. ” Physical exercise is essential for the maintenance of normal condition of life. Lack of natural exercise is one of the chief causes of weakness and ill-health.
In recent years, the need for exercise has been recognised even in sickness. Physio and occupational therapy are now standard procedures in medicine to restore the use of muscles and nerves that have been injured by disease or by accident. Patients with organic ailments are now advised to stay in bed for the minimum period considered necessary.
Exercise and Activity
For corrective living, it is essential to differentiate between exercise and activity. While both are important as they are involved in vital physical movement, they vary in degree and benefits.
Both employ the body in voluntary movement. Activity uses the body to a limited degree and generally to achieve a specific purpose. Exercise employs the body over the widest possible range of movement for the particular purpose of maintaining or acquiring muscle tone and control with maximum joint flexibility.
Activity requires less physical effort and often less conscious effort once the routine has been established. Exercise demands considerable physical effort and is more beneficial as mental concentration is simultaneously employed.
Systematic physical exercise has many benefits. The more important benefits are mentioned below :
Regular exercise taken properly can achieve the increased use of food by the body, which contributes to health and fitness. The basal metabolic rate and habitual body temperature will slowly rise during several weeks of physical exercise, if the programme is not too hard. The healthy person usually has abundant body heat and a warm radiant glow.
i. Regular progressive physical exercise can bring about the balance of automatic, or involuntary , nervous system. The tone of the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that control sensation and motion, is strengthened. This accounts for stronger pulse waves, higher metabolism and better circulation.
ii. Exercise can prevent or reduce gravitational ptosis or sag, as it is commonly called. Ptosis results from uneven flow of blood in the feet, legs and lower abdomen.
iii. Improved capillary action in the working of muscular and brain tissue results from exercise carried to the point of real endurance. This permits greater blood flow and gives the muscles, including the heart, more resistance to fatigue.
Massage, heat and moderate exercise are relatively ineffective in producing additional capillary action as compared with vigorous exercise.
iv. The full use of the lungs in vigorous exercise can reduce or prevent lung congestion due to lymph accumulation.
v. Gas and intra-intestinal accumulations can be reduced by exercise that acts to knead and squeeze or vibrate the intraintestinal mass.
vi. Better respiratory reserve is developed by persistent exercise. This ensures better breath holding, especially after a standard exercise. With greater respiratory reserves, exercise become easier.
vii. Better respiratory reserve is developed by persistent exercise. This ensures better breath holding, especially after a standard exercise. With greater respiratory reserves, exercise become easier.
viii. Improvement in tone and function of veins can be accomplished by repetitiously Exercise in Health and Disease squeezing and draining the blood out of them and then allowing them to fill.
ix. Sweating in exercise aids kidneys by helping to eliminate the waste matter from the body.
Consistent exercise leads to improvement in quality of blood. Studies have shown improved haemoglobin levels, relatively greater alkalinity, improved total protein content and a grater red cell count.
x. Systemic exercise promotes physical strength and mental vigour and strengthens will power and self control leading to harmonious development of the whole system.