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.