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Exercise vital to good health
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Ma Kang- yao
Photo courtesy of DOH
In modern societies, humans largely rely on machines to do their work. This leads to lack of adequate exercise and to obesity.
Research done by HarvardUniversity shows that exercise in a relaxed mood for one hour can increase life span by two hours. Burning up 2,000 calories every week through leisurely activities such as walking, jogging and climbing stairs can decrease 43% of deaths, 32% of cancer risk and a considerable rate of depression. Exercise is crucial to good health and life quality.
Make exercise a part of your lifestyle
According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Health Promotion under the Department of Health, 40 percent of 5,069 respondents (representing a cross-section of 6.07 million people seriously lack exercise. Males made up 38.8% and females up to 39.4%. This finding applied especially to white-collar workers from 26 to 45, who spend seven hours sitting still daily on the average.
Health problems resulting from such lifestyle include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, obesity, backache, and depression.
In recent years the Bureau of Health Promotion has been encouraging people to exercise by turning the concept of exercise from going to the gym for strenuous exercise to the more moderate type of exercise that entails an active lifestyle.
Frequent walking, climbing stairs and doing household chores could be sufficient exercise without having to go to the gym.
Why should we exercise?
Regular exercise is more important in middle age than in youth. A person who was athletic in his youth but who barely exercises in middle age has the same risk of coronary heart disease as someone who does not exercise at all. In contrast, a person who exercises very little in his youth but a lot more in his middle age clearly improves his health condition and ultimately his life span.
Doing exercise at least 30 minutes daily helps cut down the risk of cancer and heart disease. You improve your quality of life and increase your life span. Besides, appropriate exercise enhances body resistance, facilitates metabolism, brings about weight loss, widens blood vessels and renders them more resilient, helping the heart do its work. Anti-oxidants are generated, thereby retarding the aging process.
Depression caused by work pressure, cancer and AIDS are three major diseases in the 21st century. Many research findings show that exercise works like a good anti-depressant. Appropriate exercise can effectively bring relief to pressure
How strong are you?
Four measures of a person's physical strength are: cardiopulmonary endurance, the percentage of fat in the body, endurance and flexibility. If you can improve your body in these four aspects, you can improve your health.
When the heart and lungs function well, the feeling of tiredness is reduced, the rate of coronary disease is lowered, the symptoms of high blood pressure are eased, and the disposition to diabetes and other chronic diseases minimized.
Improved physical strength increases your ability to lift things and reduces the risk of hurting your muscles and bones.
Many people mistake endurance with muscular strength. Actually strength refers to the power of a certain muscle or muscular group. Endurance refers to the power of a certain muscular group to exercise repeatedly. Strength and endurance training thickens muscle fibers. Every motion of the body depends on the muscles and the bones. Many adults suffer from lower backaches due to their lack of developed muscles.
Exercises for the shank and thighs increases flexibility and can help prevent lower back and joint aches. Flexibility refers to the extent to which the human joints can be made to move. A person's bone structure, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage affect physical flexibility. A better flexibility means that the body can move, bend, stretch and twist freely without getting hurt.
Exercises to improve cardiopulmonary endurance and body composition
The cardiopulmonary endurance as well as body composition can be improved through long-term endurance training and exercise. Jogging, walking, swimming and biking are suggested. Lifting weights can also increase the body's non-fat or muscle mass composition and reduce fat. Exercising three times a week and for 20 minutes each time is recommended.
A body's high fat percentage and low muscle mass could lead to cardiopathy, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, diabetes, low lung capacity, and bone diseases. To maintain a proper percentage and distribution of fat, balanced nutrition and exercise are important.
A person's cardiopulmonary endurance normally decreases year by year after age 25. This means that at the age 75, the functions of the heart and the lungs are cut by half.
People who lack exercise would have 1.5 to 2.4 times more risk of getting heart disease than those who exercise regularly.
Exercise improves muscle endurance
Sit-ups, pull-ups and exercises which require the use of the arms such as cleaning, washing clothes, trimming, painting, and climbing stairs, strengthen muscle endurance. One to three rounds of exercises two times a week are suggested.
Exercise improves flexibility
Joints without flexibility have a limited exercise range. Some exercises force the joints to go over the range, resulting in twitching muscle. Exercise at least three times a week and for 20 to 30 minutes each time.
Ways to stay healthy
Walking everyday is the most basic and simple exercise that scarcity of facilities does not affect. Walking improves the cardio-pulmonary function, strengthens bones and muscles, brings relief to pressure, controls weight, and retards aging.
Since 2002, the Bureau of Health Promotion has been encouraging walks for good health and has adopted the slogan: Walk 10,000 Steps to Stay Healthy. Good health should start with the basic exercise of walking. Only three to ten minutes of casual walking each time can accumulate to 10,000 steps per day.
It is never too late to start to exercise.
When walking, it is better to wear clothes made of materials which can absorb sweat, and suitable sports shoes. Warm up for five minutes. Adopt the correct posture, keep your head up, thrust out your chest, draw in your lower abdomen, straighten up your knees, and lean your upper body forward.
Walking not only preserves good health. It is also good for people with diabetes.
Huang Chih-siang retired at the age of 53 and was ready to enjoy life. Then he learned that he had diabetes. After consulting a doctor, he started to walk twice a day, each time for one hour. He walked after breakfast and lunch but not after 4 p.m. when his blood sugar was low, as suggested by his doctor. Through exercise, he improved his blood sugar index.
Walking also helps people lose weight. Jhuang Te-siang lived a fast-paced life, working for a foreign company. Due to the high pressure from his job, he indulged in excessive eating. He stood 172 centimeters in height but weighed 90 kilograms at one point. Then he started to walk instead of taking the bus or riding the motorcycle to his work place upon the suggestion of his nutritionist. Three weeks later, he lost 5 kg.
"Walking helps me not only lose weight but also effectively find relief from pressure," he said.
To promote walking, the Bureau of Health Promotion has launched a series of activities such as "Walk Out of Depression, Step into Good Health," "Thirty Days One Kilometer Challenge" and "Ten Thousand Steps Per Day." It has even published a book. "Walking with Love..." introduces 100 most suitable places in Taiwan for walking. Anyone who is interested in the information can contact with the Bureau of Health Promotion.
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Exercise vital to good health