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Healthy lifestyle and exercise

Published:Tuesday | June 9, 2015 | 12:00 AMJennifer Ellison-Brown, Contributor

According to information provided by the National Centre for Health, the most common health problems in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century were infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, influenza, polio, and other diseases of infancy and the kidneys. Progress in the medical field has led to significantly reduced occurrence of these diseases.

Where more persons began to enjoy the "good life" (sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, fatty foods, excessive sweets, tobacco, drugs) we saw a parallel increase in the incidence of chronic diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, emphysema, cirrhosis of the liver, atherosclerosis, and strokes.

As the incidence of chronic diseases climbed, we realised that prevention is the best medicine.

People are now beginning to realise that good health is mostly self-controlled and that the leading causes of premature death and illness can be prevented by positive lifestyle habits.

A few ways to ensure such includes engaging in regular exercise or physical activity, balancing the diet, maintaining recommended body weight, getting sufficient sleep, avoiding unprotected sexual activity or abstaining, minimising exposure to environmental contaminants, avoiding harmful drugs (including smoking and excessive alcohol), seeking medical attention as needed, managing stress in a healthy way and exercising confidence, affection, and friendliness.


Diseases relating to sedentary lifestyles

Did you know that the human organism needs movement and activity to grow, develop, and maintain health?

Advances in modern technology, however, have almost eliminated the necessity for physical exertion in daily life. We live in an automated society where most of the activity that previously required extreme exertion can now be accomplished by the pull of a handle or push of a button. This inactivity is a threat to health.

It is recommended that individuals strive to achieve at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day for most days of the week. This will provide health benefits, lower risk of common chronic lifestyle diseases and illnesses, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, strengthen bones and joints, and increase muscle tone. It enhances one's ability to perform daily tasks and control health-care costs.


Benefits of exercise

Exercise refers to a subset of physical activity - planned, structured, repetitive movement of the body designed specifically to improve one's health and maintain physical fitness.

Physical fitness is a set of physical attributes that allows the body to adapt to the demands and stress of physical effort. Fitness depends on such physiological factors as the heart's ability to pump blood and the size of muscle fibres. Only exercise will significantly improve fitness.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that individuals include a moderate amount of exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week (Fit and Well 6th Edition 2005).


What can exercise do for you?

Physical benefits

Exercise helps you to look good and feel good.

- Burns up stored body fats so your shape improves.

- Superb muscle tone.

- Strengthens back and abdomen.

- Strengthens bones.

- Keeps joints flexible to encourage efficiency.

- Strengthens heart and lungs so you won't get tired easily.

- Helps to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, back pain, cancer.

- Slows the ageing process.

Social benefits

Exercise increases your social well-being, especially if it's in the form of a sport.

- Boosts confidence.

- Cope better with difficult people and situations.

- Meet people, make good friends.

- Develops team work and cooperation.

Mental Benefits

Exercise helps your mental well-being, too.

- It is stimulating and enjoyable.

- It relieves tension and stress, which can cause high blood pressure and heart disease.

- Relieves aggression.

- Relieves boredom and provides a challenge.

- Helps you sleep better so you feel more rested.

- Boosts self-esteem.

Keep exercising!

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