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Exercise also strengthens the muscles, which increases endurance and stamina, reduces stress and encourages restful sleep.
The good news for those of us who battle against the dreaded bulge is that exercise speeds up the body’s metabolism - which is how fast energy (calories) is burned. This effect continues several hours after exercising.
In today’s world, many people work sitting down at desks, using their brains all day. For those people, did you know exercise relaxes the brain? Our brains uses 25% of the oxygen we breathe. So our brains will operate better from exercise, because we will have more oxygen in our bloodstream.
Many other people are plagued by real physical symptoms which seem to make exercise impossible. Aches, pains, headaches, lethargy, constant exhaustion, and so on. How can a person who is so exhausted even manage the thought of getting up, getting out and exercising? Well, once again the news is all good!
We need to exercise 5-7 times a week. But starting on the path to Total Health is a step by step journey. If you have been inactive for
any reason, build up slowly - 1, 2 or 5 minutes gentle walking may be enough for you. Don’t fall into the trap of being so enthusiastic you overdo it the first few days, then collapse. Start slowly, as you gain strength you will suddenly notice you can walk for 30 seconds more, then a minute more and so on. What a feeling of well-being and success!
Once you are walking 20-30 minutes at a time, take your pulse before and after your exercise. To get the best benefit from exercising, we need to make sure our pulse is raised to a safe level and kept there for 20 minutes.
What is your safe pulse rate? Subtract your age from 200. For example if you are aged 40, subtract 40 from 200 and your pulse rate during exercise should be about 160 pulses/minute.
Exercise in the open air is better than exercise indoors, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise for all ages and fitness levels.
Rebounders (small trampolines) are very beneficial as they stimulate the tissue fluid circulation (called the lymph). Three to five minutes of rebounding is equivalent to one mile of jogging!
And don’t overlook the benefits of massage. As a passive exercise, massage is important for those who are unable to exercise actively.
What about gardening? An outdoor exercise, but not very stirring perhaps? Well, the Autumn 1997 issue of “Let’s Go Gardening”, reports on an Australian survey of 601 people who owned detached or semi-detached dwellings. The survey revealed:
“The proportion of non-gardeners reporting ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ health was twice that of gardeners.”
Gardeners made significantly less visits to the doctor than non-gardeners and this could not be accounted for in the age differences between the two groups.
The survey results suggest even one hour a week spent gardening has a positive effect on health, and the more hours spent gardening - the more the sense of well-being increases.
Fifty-nine percent of gardeners agreed gardening is equally important for both physical and mental health.
These results aren’t surprising when we consider God put our
first parents in “...the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Genesis 2:15
Let’s consider the results of more exercise research.
In the book, “LIFEFIT - An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life.”, Dr Ralph S Paffenbarger, Jr, MD and Eric Olsen report on a, “...thirty-six year follow up study of more than 50,000 Harvard College and University of Pennsylvania alumni that looks at the relations among a variety of lifestyle habits - particularly exercise - and health and longevity.”
A questionnaire was sent to the 50,000 people in 1977 and 1988. The results were:
“The subjects in the College Study (aged 45 to 84 in 1977) who increased their physical activity (measured as kilocalories of energy expended in exercise) to more than 1500 kilocalories each week in light and moderate exercise enjoyed an average of nearly two years of added life compared with those who stayed sedentary or changed from active to sedentary.
Even the oldest individuals in the study, those aged 75-84, who took up physical activity at that advanced age gained an average of 0.78 years, demonstrating eloquently just how adaptable and capable of self-development the human organism can be, even an old human organism.
Nine additional months of life may not sound like much, but coming near the end of life, this is not insignificant. Looking at this figure another way, it’s almost a 10 percent increase in survival to age 90.” Lifefit pp 30,31.
So each and every one of us can expect almost immediate benefits from exercise. Remember, exercise lifts our mood, reduces stress and calms nerves. How does it do all this?
Firstly exercise works off the adrenaline effects from fear and stress. (For information on adrenal glands, see “Stepping into the Human Body”).
Secondly exercise produces endorphins, the happy hormones. Remember, happy people tend to be healthy people.
Physical exercise actually rests the brain so is essential for all of us!
We can see how beneficial exercise is. So how many New Zealanders are exercising? Taking the Pulse - the 1996/97 New
Zealand Health Survey reported:
“Overall 60.9% of the adults in the 1996/97 Health Survey fell into the physically active category, including 19.2% in the relatively active category and 41.6% in the highly active category.” p 38
Sounds good. But the report also revealed how many New Zealanders are not getting enough exercise:
“Nearly 4 in 10 adults could be described as physically inactive.” p39
Sometimes circumstances prevent us exercising when we planned to, or how we wanted to. However, we can all ask ourselves the question,
“Am I one of these New Zealander’s who is not getting enough exercise for health?” Will you answer honestly? Read more>>