Physical Exercise

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Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, as well as for the purpose of enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent the “diseases of affluence” such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, and can even augment an individual’s sex appeal or body image, which is also found to be linked with higher levels of self-esteem. Childhood obesity is a growing global concern and physical exercise may help decrease some of the effects of childhood and adult obesity. Health care providers often call exercise the “miracle” or “wonder” drug—alluding to the wide variety of proven benefits that it provides.

Types of exercise

Physical exercises are generally grouped into three types, depending on the overall effect they have on the human body:
  • Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, improve the range of motion of muscles and joints.
  • Aerobic exercises, such as cycling, swimming, walking, skipping rope, rowing, running, hiking    or    playing    tennis,    focus   on    increasing    cardiovascular endurance.
  • Anaerobic exercises, such as weight training, functional training, eccentric training or sprinting and high-intensity interval training, increase short-term muscle strength.

Categories

Physical exercise is used to improve physical skills. Physical skills fall into the following general categories: Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

Health effects

Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and multiple anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
Exercise reduces levels of cortisol which causes many health problems, both physical and mental.
Endurance exercise before meals lowers blood glucose more than the same exercise after mealsAccording to the World Health Organization, lack of physical activity contributes to approximately 17% of heart disease and diabetes, 12% of falls in the elderly, and 10% of breast cancer and colon cancer.
There is evidence that vigorous exercise (90–95% of VO2 Max) induces a greater degree of physiological cardiac hypertrophy than moderate exercise (40 to 70% of VO2 Max), but it is unknown whether this has any effects on overall morbidity and/or mortality.
Exercise in space: Astronaut Daniel Tani, Expedition 16 flight engineer, works out at the Unity node of the International Space Station using the short bar of the Interim Resistive Exercise Device (IRED) to perform pull-ups to increase his upper body strength while in a microgravity environment
Some studies have shown that vigorous exercise executed by healthy individuals can increase opioid peptides (a.k.a. endorphins, naturally occurring opioids that in conjunction with other neurotransmitters are responsible for exercise-induced euphoria and have been shown to be addictive), increase testosterone and growth hormone, effects that are not as fully realized with moderate exercise. More recent research indicates that anandamide may play a greater role than endorphins in “runner’s high”. However, training at this intensity for long periods of time, or without proper warmup beforehand and cooldown afterwards, can lead to an increased risk of injury and overtraining
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise work to increase the mechanical efficiency of the heart by increasing cardiac volume (aerobic exercise), or myocardial thickness (strength training). Such changes are generally beneficial and healthy if they occur in response to exercise.
Not everyone benefits equally from exercise. There is tremendous variation in individual response to training; where most people will see a moderate increase in endurance from aerobic exercise, some individuals will as much as double their oxygen uptake, while others can never augment endurance. However, muscle hypertrophy from resistance training is primarily determined by diet and testosterone. This genetic variation in improvement from training is one of the key physiological differences between elite athletes and the larger population. Studies have shown that exercising in middle age leads to better physical ability later in life.