Are you or your children obese? Have you attempted weight loss? Regular physical activity has been viewed as an important part in helping individuals to maintain their weight loss. Both low and high intensity exercises are associated with increased energy expenditure, improved weight control and prevention of obesity. A positive effect of exercise on the distribution of body fat can be observed by the decrease in the proportion of abdominal or visceral fat, which is normally increased in obese individuals. When practiced during childhood, physical activity in the form of moderate workouts or sports helps children to develop a positive attitude towards the maintenance of proper health, which continues even during adulthood.1,2
Most fat is broken up daily in the body in a type of muscle known as the skeletal muscle. Proper exercise increases the volume of these muscles and regular physical activity increases the amount of fat utilization for the purpose of generating energy, which helps control fat mass. Furthermore, these skeletal muscles also utilize blood glucose very efficiently. Regular physical activity promotes insulin, the hormone responsible for blood glucose levels, sensitivity and the maintenance of blood glucose levels. Therefore, regular physical activity has been advised to prevent obesity and for maintaining body weight.3
Daily physical activity and regular exercise programs have an impact on the energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity (which helps in better utilization of blood glucose), thereby promoting weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Therefore, along with diet and medications, regular physical exercise is considered to be vital for weight loss and maintenance.4
- Bray GA. Lifestyle and Pharmacological Approaches to Weight Loss: Efficacy and Safety. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008; 93(11 Suppl 1): S81–S88.
- Fogelholm M. How Physical Activity Can Work. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2008; 3(Suppl 1): 10–14.
- Maffeis C, Castellani M. Physical Activity: An Effective Way to Control Weight in Children? Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2007; 17(5): 394–408.
- Astrup A. How to Maintain a Healthy Body Weight. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2006; 76(4): 208–215.
Our day-to-day activities put different kinds of stresses on our bodies and tend quite easily to strain our muscles and bones. Our bodies are required to coordinate and perform a number of movements based on our daily needs. For example, playing children and working adults need to be flexible to prevent stress-related injuries. Being flexible is also highly important to people who need to perform repeated movements at work. Furthermore, for their fitness and health, athletes need to be very flexible because they are at the top at the top of the high-risk group prone to muscle injuries.
Exercising on a regular basis is the solution. Exercises increase the flexibility of our body by loosening up and increasing the range of movement in our joints. Swimming and stretching exercises are especially beneficial. Also, achieving good body flexibility helps to prevent a number of injuries that are associated with rigidity.
Unfortunately, individuals suffering from muscle tightness are at an increased risk of muscle tears. In such cases, flexibility exercises such as stretching should be included as a part of warming up.1 Regular flexibility exercises can prevent chronic and overuse injuries commonly found in athletes.2 For increased fitness and health, flexibility also helps to improve body awareness and promotes relaxation of the muscles being stretched.
Scientists in the field of sports suggest that flexibility exercises should be included in the daily routine of people playing sports, as these movements help to cool the fatigued muscles, which are prone to injury.3 Therefore, we need to do flexibility exercises to maintain our fitness and health.
- Boyle M. Linear and Lateral Warm-up in: Functional Training for Sports. 2004; 29–53. Champaign II, Human Kinetics.
- Tyler TF, Nicholas SJ, Campbell RJ, et al. The Association of Hip Strength and Flexibility with The Incidence of Adductor Muscle Strains in Professional Ice Hockey Players. Am. J. Sports Med. 2001; 29(2): 124–128.
- Atler MJ. Science of Flexibility. Human Kinetics 2004.
All in all, exercise is a very important aspect of human life which cannot be ignored, but the reality seems different. Professor Steven N. Blair, of the University of South Carolina has projected physical inactivity to be the biggest public health problem of the twenty-first century.1
Physical inactivity has already become a public health problem in recent times. The cost of inactivity-related problems is a burden on society and has put additional burdens on insurance programs.2
The solution could be to pay more intensive attention to developing comprehensive community fitness programs. There should be more facilities for sport and recreation, especially during wintertime and for persons with special needs. Primary health services, nongovernmental organizations and the media should play a greater role in promotion of physical activity.3
You can do two things that will matter immediately: 1) Increase your exercise program and
2) get involved in improving your community’s fitness programs.
- Blair SN. Physical Inactivity: the Biggest Public Health Problem of the 21st Century. Br J Sports Med. 2009 Jan;43 (1):1-2.
- Garrett NA, Brasure M, Schmitz KH, Schultz MM, Huber MR. Physical Inactivity: Direct Cost to a Health Plan. Am J Prev Med. 2004 Nov; 27(4):304-9.
- Kovacić L. Physical Inactivity as a Public Health Problem. Acta Med Croatica. 2007; 61 Suppl 1:5-7
Insomnia is the condition characterized by difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. A number of studies have shown that people, who engage in regular exercise, particularly women who exercise regularly, sleep longer at night and have a better quality of sleep. Regular physical exercise promotes relaxation of the body in ways that are beneficial in initiating and maintaining sleep.
Researchers at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have shown that moderate aerobic exercise—not heavy aerobic or moderate strength exercises—can help improve the sleep quality of insomnia patients.1 According to the study, there was an increase in the total sleep time (21%), sleep efficiency (18%), reductions in the time to fall asleep (54%) and the wake time (36%), in the exercise group. Additionally, there was a significant reduction (7%) in the anxiety state after a moderate aerobic exercise session, which further adds to the sleep benefits.1
Although initially exercise increases the level of stress hormones in the body, subsequently, there is a decrease in the levels of these hormones within a few hours after exercising. As a result, regular exercise a few hours before bedtime can quickly break the sleep-stress cycle that is commonly noted in individuals suffering from insomnia. In the elderly population too, exercise may enhance sleep and contribute to an increased quality of life.2,3
- The Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients Can Be Improved By Moderate Exercise. Available online at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/111011.php. Accessed on: 12 Jan 09.
- Montgomery P, Dennis J. Physical Exercise for Sleep Problems in Adults Aged 60+. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002; (4): CD003404.
- King AC, Pruitt LA, Woo S, Castro CM, Ahn DK. Effects of Moderate-intensity Exercise on Polysomnographic and Subjective Sleep Quality in Older Adults with Mild to Moderate Sleep Complaints. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008; 63(9): 997–1004.
Fitness and health exercise seems to favorably modify short-term appetite control.1 Exercise will be most beneficial for weight control if carried out in combination with a balanced low calorie diet or with judicious control of eating, avoiding a desire for self-reward after exercise. The beneficial outcome of fitness and health exercise on regulation of appetite and diet can contribute in the prevention of weight regain in obese individuals.
Although the mechanisms whereby exercise improves short-term appetite remain unknown, the satiety hormones (chemical messengers that initiate a feeling of fullness after taking food) are likely to be involved. Intense exercise was found to increase the level of hunger-controlling factors after eating food, thereby suggesting that exercise can set off physiological changes in satiety hormone secretion, which help in control of appetite and weight maintenance.1
A six-week moderate exercise program (four times per week) on appetite regulation in healthy, sedentary individuals supports the findings that exercise for fitness and health has a significant impact on short-term appetite control by increasing the sensitivity of eating behavior.2 A recent study indicates that the timing of exercise to meal consumption may influence appetite and its hormonal regulators. Exercise performed two hours after meal is consumed seems to further extend the appetite-suppressing effect of food intake.3
This information should be a wake-up call, especially to obese people. Exercise for health and fitness can reduce the body’s desire for food and is a great adjunct to a healthy diet.
- Martins C, Robertson MD, Morgan LM. Effects of Exercise and Restrained Eating Behavior on Appetite Control. Proc Nutr Soc. 2008; 67(1): 28–41.
- Martins C, Truby H, Morgan LM. Short-term Appetite Control in Response to a 6-week Exercise Program in Sedentary Volunteers. Br J Nutr. 2007; 98(4): 834–842.
- Cheng MH, Bushnell D, Cannon DT, Kern M. Appetite Regulation Via Exercise Prior or Subsequent to High-fat Meal Consumption. Appetite. 2009; 52(1): 193–198.
A growing body of evidence substantiates the view that regular exercise may enhance sexuality through various mechanisms that affect both the mind and body. Regular exercise can enhance sexuality through the benefits gained in muscle strength, endurance and heart functioning. Research indicates that regular exercise may increase sexual drive, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction.
Results of one study reported that women were more sexually responsive following 20 minutes of vigorous exercise.1 Among men, exercise is linked with increased testosterone (male hormone) levels, which may stimulate sexual interest and behavior. Another study found that men over 50 years of age, who are physically active, had a 30% lower risk of impotence when compared with inactive men.2 Frequent exercise and higher levels of physical fitness seem to improve perception of sexual performance and sexual desirability.
Exercise frequency and physical fitness increase energy levels and enhance attractiveness, which make people feel better about themselves.3 Therefore, people who regularly exercise have a better perception of themselves, are more confident in their physical abilities, and find themselves more sexually attractive— all of which add to increased competency in love making. Conditioning of the body and its muscle groups allow for greater flexibility, making sexual activity more enjoyable. These people also experience higher levels of satisfaction.
- Stanten, N, Yeager S. Four Workouts to Improve Your Love Life. Prevention. 2003; 55: 76–78.
- Bacon CG, Mittleman MA, Kawachi I. Sexual Function in Men Older than 50 Years of Age: Results from the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. Ann Intern Med. 2003; 139: 161–168.
- Penhollow TM, Young M. Sexual Desirability and Sexual Performance: Does Exercise and Fitness Really Matter? Electronic J Hum Sexuality. 2004; 7.
Women who undergo menopause face many changes that may lead to loss of health-related fitness. Regular exercise has been highly promoted and recognized as the best non-medical treatment for postmenopausal problems. Exercise can reduce severe symptoms in menopausal women and improve their fitness level and quality of life.1 Exercise-induced improvements in heart and respiratory system seemed to have a direct effect on the quality of life in postmenopausal women.2
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University examined the effects of a four-month exercise trial (regular walking or yoga) on mental health outcomes in previously low-active middle-aged women, and they concluded that regular exercise enhances mood and mental health outcomes during menopause.2 The improvements in heart and respiratory fitness were said to have a positive impact on the quality of life of these women.
In addition, a study by German researchers on the effect of an intense exercise program on physical fitness, coronary heart disease, bone mineral density (BMD) and parameters related to quality of life in early postmenopausal women has shown that intense exercise training can be effective in improving strength, endurance, quality of life parameters and even BMD in postmenopausal women.3
- Teoman N, Ozcan A, Acar B. The Effect of Exercise on Physical Fitness and Quality of Life in Postmenopausal Women. Maturitas. 2004; 47(1): 71–77.
- Elavsky S, McAuley E. Physical Activity and Mental Health OutcomesDuring Menopause: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Behav Med. 2007; 33(2): 132–142.
- Kemmler W, Engelke K, Lauber D, Weineck J, Hensen J. Exercise Effects on Fitness and Bone Mineral Density in Early Postmenopausal Women: 1-year EFOPS Results. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002; 34(12): 2115–2123.
A healthy exercise routine combined with a balanced diet is an excellent way to improve fertility associated with ovary-related disorders in women. Exercise reduces high stress levels linked to the development of heart and blood vessel diseases and depression, which subsequently can have negative effects on female ovulation (formation of eggs in the ovary) and menstruation.
A 2007 study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who exercise and eat a balanced diet containing reduced amounts of saturated fats, more dairy products and less meat had less ovulation problems.1 A more recent study on a group of infertile, obese women has shown that a 12-week program of specific diet and exercise has favorable effect on the metabolic and menstrual parameters in these women.2
Evidence-based guidelines also indicate that a regular exercise routine before and during gestation is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. In addition to maintaining physical fitness, a healthy exercise routine may also be beneficial in preventing or treating many diseases affecting the mother and her child growing in the womb.3
Furthermore, some specific yoga postures may increase fertility, as these postures help to stimulate the blood flow to the reproductive system, stimulate ovulation and make the uterus healthier for conception.4 Therefore, this type of physical activity can also be used as an adjunct to infertility treatment.
- Available online at: http://www.dancewithshadows.com/society/fertility-lifestyle.asp. Accessed on: 12 Jan 09.
- Miller PB, Forstein DA, Styles S. Effect of Short-term Diet and Exercise on Hormone Levels and Menses in Obese, Infertile Women. J Reprod Med. 2008; 53(5): 315–319.
- Weissgerber TL, Wolfe LA, Davies GA, Mottola MF. Exercise in the Prevention and Treatment of Maternal-fetal Disease: A Review of the Literature. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2006; 31(6): 661–674.
- Khalsa HK. Yoga: An Adjunct to Infertility Treatment. Fertil Steril. 2003; 80(Suppl 4): 46–51.
Exercise is a key strategy employed in the rehabilitation of HIV/AIDS patients in order to address problems such as bodily impairments (pain or weakness), activity limitations (such as inability to walk) and participation restrictions (problems faced in life situations such as inability to work). In addition, exercise has clinically significant effects on immune responsiveness (the body’s ability to oppose infections) of HIV-infected patients, causing a slowdown on the progression of the disease.
An analysis on the safety and effectiveness of aerobic exercise interventions in adults living with HIV/AIDS confirmed that aerobic exercise is safe and beneficial for HIV/AIDS patients. The study noted improvements in the immune response, heart and lung functions and psychological behavior in those individuals studied. 1 Similarly, another study stated that aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes at a minimum of three times per week for four weeks appears to be beneficial and safe for adults living with HIV/AIDS.2 Further, supervised aerobic exercise training has also been shown to safely decrease fatigue, weight, and fat reduction in HIV-infected individuals.3
The benefits of aerobic exercising may result from the direct effect on immune response adjustment (exercise boosts the immune system) or from the psychological effects of exercise. Regular physical exercise helps to slow HIV progression and raise HIV patients’ blood count of certain specialized cells known as CD4 cells. CD4 is a type of white blood cell that helps in protection against infections and is specifically targeted by HIV. The higher the CD4 count in the blood, the better the ability of the patients to resist infections.
- Nixon S, O’Brien K, Glazier RH, Tynan AM. Aerobic Exercise Interventions for Adults Living with HIV/AIDS. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005; (2): CD001796.
- O’Brien K, Nixon S, Tynan AM, Glazier RH. Effectiveness of Aerobic Exercise in Adults Living with HIV/AIDS: Systematic Review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004; 36(10): 1659–1666.
- Smith BA, Neidig JL, Nickel JT, Mitchell GL, Para MF, et al. Aerobic Exercise: Effects on Parameters Related to Fatigue, Dyspnea, Weight and Body Composition in HIV-infected Adults. AIDS. 2001; 15(6): 693–701.
Regular sessions of moderate exercise has been linked to an improvement in the body’s defense (immune) system, which could protect individuals against infections of the throat and nose (commonly referred to as parts of the upper respiratory tract). 1 People who exercise regularly report fewer incidences of colds than those who lead sedentary lifestyles. Regular, consistent, moderate exercise can lead to substantial benefits in the immune system over the long term. Nevertheless, this benefit is not seen when people are doing intense exercise, as it may cause a temporary decrease in immune system function.
A long-term study in Columbia has demonstrated a 23% reduction in risk of upper respiratory tract infection in those engaging in regular physical activity compared to those who engage in irregular moderate-to-vigorous exercise.2 In addition, a recent study on the effect of exercise on the immune system of healthy older adults suggested that regular aerobic exercise appears to benefit the immune system by helping to balance the responses of the immune system and reducing the symptoms of inflammation.3
There are physiological changes in the immune system as a response to regular, moderate exercise. During moderate exercise, the immune cells circulate through the body more rapidly and have a better ability to kill the infecting pathogens (disease-causing bacteria or virus). Although the immune system returns to pre-exercise levels immediately after the exercise session, each session represents an expansion in the immune system surveillance, and this cumulative effect appears to reduce the risk of infection over the long-term.
- Jeurissen A, Bossuyt X, Ceuppens JL, Hespel P. The Effects of Physical Exercise on the Immune System. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2003; 147(28): 1347–1351. Article in Dutch.
- Matthews CE, Ockene IS, Freedson PS, Rosal MC, Herbert JR, et al. Physical Activity and Risk of Upper-respiratory Tract Infection. Med Sci Sports Exercise. 2000; 32: S292.
- Haaland DA, Sabljic TF, Baribeau DA, Mukovozov IM, Hart LE. Is Regular Exercise a Friend or Foe of the Aging Immune System? A Systematic Review. Clin J Sport Med. 2008; 18(6): 539–548.