Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Jennifer Ellison-Brown | Physical activity versus exercise and wellness

Published:Wednesday | June 29, 2016 | 6:00 AM

There has been an abundance of scientific research on physical activity and exercise, and a clear distinction has been established between the two.

Physical activity is bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles. It requires energy expenditure and produces progressive health benefits. Typical examples of physical activity includes walking to and from work, taking the stairs instead of elevators, gardening, doing household chores, dancing and washing the car by hand. Physical inactivity, on the other hand, implies a level of inactivity that is lower than that required to maintain good health.

Exercise is a type of activity that requires planned, structured and repetitive bodily movement to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness. Examples of exercise are walking, running, cycling, aerobics, swimming and strength training.

Poor health because of the lack of physical activity is a public health problem that must be taken seriously. A number of individuals do not achieve the recommended amount of physical activity and some are not physically active at all. Furthermore, the number of people who are not physically active are at risk of suffering from health and lifestyle-related issues.

Regular, moderate physical activity can prevent premature death, unnecessary illnesses and disability. It can provide substantial benefits in health and well-being to the vast majority of people who are not physically active. Individuals who are already moderately active can increase their amount of physical activity to achieve greater health benefits.

Among the benefits that can be achieved are significantly reduced risk for developing or dying from heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure.

Regular physical activity is also good for the bones, muscles and joints. It also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, improves mood and enhances one's ability to perform daily tasks throughout life. It also can help to control health-care costs and maintain a high quality of life in old age.

 

IMPROVING QUALITY OFLIFE

 

Moderate exercise is defined as using 150 calories of energy per day or 1,000 calories per week. It is recommended that persons must strive to achieve at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day for most days of the week.

A moderate physical activity is a little more strenuous than the examples previously given for physical activity and includes playing court games such as volleyball, basketball and netball, swimming, dancing fast and water aerobics.

People must recognise that participating in fitness programmes improve their quality of life. However, improving physical fitness alone is not always sufficient to lower the risk for disease and ensure better health.

Even though most people are aware of their unhealthy behaviours, they seem satisfied with life as long as they are free from symptoms of disease or illness. They do not contemplate change until they suffer a major health problem. Present lifestyle habits, however, dictate the health and well-being of tomorrow.

The notion of good health has evolved notably and continues to change as persons learn about lifestyle factors that bring on illness and affect wellness. Furthermore, once the idea took hold that fitness by itself will not always decrease the risk for disease and ensure better health, the wellness concept developed.

For a wellness way of life, not only must individuals be physically fit and manifest no sign of disease, but they must also be free of risk factors for disease (such as cigarette smoking, negative stress, faulty nutrition, careless sex).

Even though an individual may demonstrate adequate or even excellent fitness, indulgence in unhealthy lifestyle behaviours will still increase the risk for chronic diseases and diminish the person's well-being.

Wellness has seven dimensions: physical, emotional, mental, social, environmental, occupational and spiritual. These dimensions are inter-related, one frequently affects the other. The seven dimensions of wellness shows how the concept clearly goes beyond the absence of disease and incorporates factors such as adequate fitness, proper nutrition, stress management, disease prevention, spirituality, not smoking or abusing drugs, personal safety, regular physical examinations, health education and environmental support.

Wellness living requires implementing positive programmes to change behaviour to improve health and quality of life, prolong life and achieve total well-being.