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The benefits of regular physical activity


(JAMA ) 03/02/2003

Whether it is recreational or competitive, physical activity is essential and benefits total health throughout life. As you become more physically fit, your overall health begins to improve as well.

Regular exercise has an extensive list of benefits. Some of these benefits include:

· Aids in the prevention of disease- Physical inactivity can lead to a number of degenerative diseases such as diabetes; regular exercise can help delay and even prevent the onset of chronic illnesses.

· Helps treat injury- Exercise is used to treat physical limitations through exercise, stretching, and conditioning.

· Promotes restful sleep- Those who participate in regular exercise tend to be more relaxed and burdened with less stress.

· Promotes optimal body composition- When participating in regular physical activity you use up more calories; therefore decreasing the likeliness of gaining unhealthy weight.

· Optimal bone density-Weight-bearing exercise helps to build and strengthen bones thus reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis.

· Strengthens circulation and lung function-Aerobic exercise helps to strengthen the heart and lungs and helps to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

· Promotes self-confidence and decreases depression-Setting and achieving your goals help increase self image and can promote positive well-being.


Choosing the right exercise

How do you know which activity is right for you? You should always choose an activity that fits your lifestyle, any physical limitations and of course that you enjoy. There are two types of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic exercise- Aerobic exercises are those that help to reduce fat, these include walking, running, swimming and bicycling. Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate and breathing becomes heavier. After about 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, the body begins to use its stored fat as fuel, hence the phrase "burning fat". Regular aerobic exercise raises your body's metabolism and enables your body to use more calories, even when you are at rest.
Anaerobic exercises- Anaerobic exercises help you to develop stronger muscles. These exercises involve short bursts of force followed by periods of rest and include push-ups, crunches, pull-ups and weight lifting.

Anaerobic exercise does not burn fat like aerobic exercise, but helps to build muscle. An increase in muscle mass complements aerobic exercise by enabling you to use more calories.

(c) 2002 Sociedad Española de Medicina Antienvejecimiento y Longevidad

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