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Exercise for good health

This topic provides information related to importance of exercise to maintain ideal body weight.

Exercise regularly and be physically active to maintain ideal body weight

Rationale: Regular physical exercises increase strength and stamina, elevates ‘good’ cholesterol and adds pink tinge to health

  • Physical activity of moderate intensity is recommended for health and wellbeing.
  • Physical activity is essential to maintain ideal body weight by burning excess calories and is of vital significance for health and prevention of non-communicable diseases.
  • Physical activity is a major modifiable risk factor in reduction of non-communicable chronic diseases.
  • Physical activity may reduce the risk of falls and injuries in the elderly.
  • Exercise is a prescriptive medicine.
  • Move your body as much as you can.
  • A minimum 30-45 minutes brisk walk/physical activity of moderate intensity improves overall health.
  • Include ‘warm-up’and ‘cool- down’ periods, before and after the exercise regimen.
  • Forty five minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity provides many health benefits.

Energy balance

How much of physical exercise is needed?

It is recommended to carry out at least 45 minutes of physical activity of moderate-intensity for at least 5 days in a week. This amount of physical activity may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. To lose weight, experts recommend that at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity be taken on most days of the week. In addition, one should follow a nutritious eating plan and consume fewer calories. Therefore, it is essential to remember that the body weight is affected by the balance of “calories-consumed” and “calories-burned.” Those, who are on low calorie diets for body weight reduction should have moderate to vigorous intensity physical activities at least for 60-90 minutes daily. Physical activity is essential for successful long-term weight management and will depend on current BMI and health condition

Levels of physical activity

There are two basic levels of physical activity.

Moderate: This includes walking briskly (about 5-6 KM in an hour), climbing, gardening/yard work, dancing, walking short distances for fetching milk and vegetables, bicycling (about 16 KM in an hour), and weight training (a general light workout), yogasanas and pranayama, playing with children

Vigorous: Examples are running/jogging (7 KM in an hour), cycling (> 16 KM in an hour), swimming (freestyle laps), aerobics, brisk walking (6 KM in an hour), weight lifting (vigorous effort), competitive sports and heavy yard work, such as digging, cutting wood.

The approximate energy costs of various physical activities in different intensities for a 60 kg person.

If a physical activity does not increase the heart rate, it is not intense enough to be counted in the category of “45 minutes of exercise a day”. Activities that do not increase the heart rate include walking at a casual pace, grocery shopping, and doing light household chores.

Types of physical activities

These activities are very beneficial to health.

Aerobic activities

These speed your heart rate and breathing while improving heart and lung fitness. Examples: brisk walking, jogging and swimming.

Resistance, strength building and weight-bearing activities

These help build and maintain bones and muscles by working them against gravity. Lifting weights, walking with child in arms are a few examples.

Balance and stretching activities

Dancing, gentle stretching, yoga, martial arts and Tai chi reduce risk of injuries by improving physical stability and flexibility.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Controls body weight and composition.
  • Reduces risk chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and certain types of cancers.
  • Builds strong muscles, bones and joints.
  • Improves flexibility.
  • Wards off depression.
  • Improves mood, sense of well-being and self esteem.

Children and teenagers need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. In the case of pregnant women 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity every day is recommended. However, it should be undertaken in consultation with the physician. Like others, geriatric population also will be benefitted considerably by physical activity, which will help in the reduction of functional impairment and improve lean body mass.

People with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis and obesity should consult physician before taking up the exercise program. Men over 40 and women over 50 should also consult doctor or health care provider before starting a vigorous physical activity program.

Source: National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad

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