The Benefits of Exercise

The Big Heart Disease Lie

Cure for Cardiovascular Disease Found

Get Instant Access

Along with a healthy diet, exercise is the cornerstone of good health. Physical activity produces a multitude of benefits for your overall health and well-being. Being active helps prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol levels and making the heart pump more efficiently. It reduces the risk of dying prematurely, especially of heart disease. Physical activity helps control your weight and prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure and diabetes. Regular exercise also can improve your mood, reduce stress, and relieve depression, not to mention build muscular strength and tone, increase your flexibility,

12 and enhance endurance. Just a small increase in your activity level can yield big

The results, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Healthy Doctors recommend that all men engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate

Man exercise every day. But you don't have to exercise for half an hour all at once.

You can accumulate several shorter sessions throughout the day, as long as it adds up to about 30 minutes. For example, you could walk briskly to the bus for 10 minutes in the morning and home again for 10 minutes at night. Add another 10-minute period of stair climbing or yard work in the middle of the day and you've met your goal. Lack of time doesn't have to be a barrier any longer. You can reap the benefits of exercise with either shorter but more frequent periods of activity or one long, sustained session.

You don't have to aspire to be a long-distance runner or pump heavy iron to attain health benefits from exercise. Any type of physical activity—washing the car, mowing the lawn, taking the stairs, even walking—is good for you and will cut your risk of heart disease. Of course, the more exercise you engage in, the more benefits you gain. So once you begin to exercise moderately on a regular basis, try to boost your activity level by including more vigorous activities such as jogging or swimming in your exercise program (see page 59).

The good news is that even if you start exercising later in life you will still see positive results. Previously sedentary men who begin exercising in their 40s, 50s, or 60s can trim their risk of dying prematurely of heart disease by almost half, even if they already have a heart condition. All you need to do is get up and move—walk instead of drive, pull some weeds in the garden, or do light housework several times a week. Better yet, ride a bike, swim, or jog regularly.

If you have not been very active, you need to start exercising slowly. Gradually increase the length of time you exercise. Take a walk around the block a few times each night after dinner, then walk longer distances as you feel more fit. Talk to your doctor about the types of activities that are safe. Be sure to choose activities you enjoy so you will be more likely to continue exercising. Take part in a variety of activities so you won't get bored. Walk, swim, ride a bike, climb stairs, go dancing, or play volleyball—any activity counts as long as you keep moving. Get your family involved. Family members can improve their health and spend time together on a hike, bicycle ride, or other physical activity.

Most important, make exercising a regular part of your routine. Remember to drink plenty of water before you begin exercising, and drink more afterward to prevent dehydration.

If you already exercise regularly, make sure the activity is strenuous enough that you reach your target heart rate, which is 50 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate for your age. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. That number multiplied by .50 gives you 50 percent of your maximum heart rate. Multiply that same number by .80 and you get 80 percent of your maximum rate. Your target heart rate lies between these two numbers.

Immediately after you stop exercising, take your pulse for 15 seconds and 13

multiply the number of beats by 4 to find your heart rate in beats per minute. If The you are not reaching your target heart rate, exercise a bit harder the next time you work out. If your heart rate is above your target rate, work out a little less vigorously.

Benefits of Exercise

What Type of Exercise Is Best for You?

Choosing the best type of exercise for your lifestyle can be as easy as participating in an activity you like, whether it's biking with the family or playing a not-so-serious game of basketball. All forms of exercise are beneficial for your health. Aerobic exercises are prolonged physical activities that you can perform continuously for at least 12 minutes and that use oxygen to provide energy for your muscles. Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and bicycling use the large muscles in your trunk, upper body, and legs in repeated rhythmic movements that you sustain for long periods. This type of exercise strengthens your heart, making it work more efficiently during exercise and at rest.

If you are just starting an exercise program and have been inactive, ask your doctor to recommend activities that are safe, especially if you have an existing health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Men who are already fit should add other types of exercises to their aerobic routine. Strength-conditioning exercises using free weights or exercise machines can also strengthen your heart and can help you build strength, improve posture, and reduce your risk of lower-back injury. Flexibility exercises such as stretching help you to maintain complete range of motion in your joints and can prevent injury and muscle soreness.

Before beginning any new exercise program, always consult with your doctor if you are over age 40, smoke, or have any risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, a high cholesterol level, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease.

Stay Active

Regular exercise can provide health benefits at any age. In addition to keeping your heart, muscles, and bones strong, it makes you feel good. Incorporate it into your daily routine.

Stay Active

Regular exercise can provide health benefits at any age. In addition to keeping your heart, muscles, and bones strong, it makes you feel good. Incorporate it into your daily routine.

Getting Started and Staying Motivated

It may seem overwhelming to even think about exercising every day, but remember that any type of physical activity counts toward your goal. If you are over age 40 or are a smoker, you should get a thorough physical examination from your doctor before participating in any type of vigorous exercise program. After

14 the doctor gives you the all-clear signal, try these tips to get you off to a good

The start and help you stick to your exercise regimen:


Man • Set reasonable goals. If you can only jog lightly for 5 minutes at first, don't try to do more right away.

• Listen to your body. It will tell you when to slow down or rest.

• Vary your routine. It's too easy to get bored with only one activity.

• Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that fit well and support your feet.

• Slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Start with moderate-level activities.

• Seek support from family and friends. Ask them to exercise with you.

• Keep an exercise log. Seeing your own progress is a great motivator.

• Reward yourself. Buy a special treat when you reach a milestone.

The Dangers of Anabolic Steroids

Professional and amateur athletes sometimes use supplements or drugs to improve their physical performance. Anabolic steroids are probably the most well-known performance-enhancing drugs, and the most dangerous. These synthetic drugs imitate the effects of the male hormone testosterone. The drugs have approved medical uses, but athletes use them to make their muscles bulkier and stronger.

Anabolic steroids are especially risky because they have a number of unwanted side effects. Steroids can cause acne, raise blood pressure, damage the liver, reduce sperm counts, decrease the size of the testicles, increase the size of the breasts, cause erectile dysfunction, and speed up the development of baldness. Anabolic steroids also can cause mood swings, aggression, and vio lent behavior. In adolescents they can prematurely stop growth and development. The drugs are either taken in pill form or injected with a hypodermic needle and, if an athlete shares the needle with a friend, he puts himself at risk of contracting a blood-borne infection such as hepatitis (see page 191) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (see page 186). If that is not enough to convince you not to use these drugs, you should also know that possessing or selling anabolic steroids without a prescription from a doctor is illegal.

Anabolic steroids are not worth the risks. It's much safer to increase your muscle mass and strength by performing resistance exercises regularly and eating a healthy diet.

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Always begin your exercise routine with a thorough warm-up period. Warm-up exercises heighten your flexibility and prevent muscle soreness. The purpose of warm-up exercises is to take each joint in your body through its full range of motion. Stretching exercises combined with low-intensity walking, jogging, or bicycling for about 5 minutes also prepare your body for more vigorous activity. After you finish your workout, repeat the same exercises to cool your muscles and joints down. Here are some effective warm-up and cool-down stretches you 15

can try. Do each exercise slowly, spending 1 or 2 minutes on each stretch. If any The warm-up exercise gives you pain, stop doing it. Begin by stretching your arms Benefits ot and spine.


Spine and Arm Stretch Stand with your feet facing forward and your knees slightly bent. Try to keep your body straight as you reach your arms over your head with your hands together, palms facing forward. Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Slowly bring your arms down, reaching out with your hands as you go down, and bend down at the waist. Keep your knees slightly bent. Try to touch the ground, but don't stretch too far if it hurts, and avoid bouncing. Slowly rise and let your arms fall to your sides. Repeat three times.

Calf Stretch Stand erect in front of a wall or a doorframe. While moving forward, bend one leg and move the other back, with both of your heels on the floor, keeping the back leg straight. Move forward as far as is comfortable until you feel a pull in the back of your outstretched leg. Relax and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

Thigh Stretch Balance on your left leg. If you can't balance easily, hold on to a chair. Bend your right leg back and hold your right foot with your right hand, pressing in as far as is comfortable. Raise your left arm. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Calf Stretch

Arm Circles Hold both of your arms out straight. Draw a one-foot circle in the air with both arms at once. Repeat five times in each direction.

Side Stretch Stand with your feet about a foot apart. Raise one arm, with the fingers pointing inward. Bend in the direction of your raised fingers. (If you can't bend at all, just hold the arm-up position for a few seconds.) You should be able to feel a stretching in your side. Repeat with your other arm raised. Stretch each side three times.

Thigh Stretch

Neck Stretch Clasp your hands behind your head and slowly turn, looking over your left shoulder. Bring your head down and to the front and look to the floor as you slowly turn to the opposite shoulder. Repeat the exercise three times.

Healthy Man

Healthy Man

Pelvic Stretch This exercise will stretch your thigh muscles. Sit on the floor with your legs apart as far as they will comfortably go. Bend over and reach forward with your arms on the floor as far as you can go. Hold for 30 seconds.

Inner-Thigh Stretch To stretch your inner-thigh muscles, sit on the floor, bring your feet together, and pull them toward your body. Push your knees down with your elbows. Keep your head up and your back straight. Stretch only as far as you can while remaining comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds.

After your exercise period, don't just stop cold and rest. As you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles, causing soreness, fatigue, and possibly cramping. To reduce the amount of lactic acid in your muscles, you need to cool down by continuing to exercise at a lower intensity for 5 to 10 minutes and then do some stretching exercises. Cooling down will make you feel better as well as reduce muscle soreness.

Knowing When to Stop Exercising

Exercise- and sports-related injuries usually arise from overuse of a muscle, tendon, ligament, or joint (see page 63). If you have a condition, such as arthritis, that can be aggravated by exercise, talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program. If you experience any pain, or if you injure yourself, stop exercising immediately. Never ignore an injury or attempt to "work through" the pain; you may make your injury worse. Instead, stop exercising for a few days and follow the RICE routine (see page 65). If you think the injury may be serious, or if you still experience pain after a few days of the RICE routine, talk to your doctor. You should also stop exercising immediately if you have any symptoms of a heart attack (see page 66).

Some athletes exercise too much, especially if they are training for an upcoming event such as a marathon. Overtraining is self-defeating. It causes physical exhaustion and adversely affects your athletic performance. If you think you may be overtraining, you need to recognize when to stop exercising and rest, before you reach exhaustion. You should always exercise at your own pace, keeping in mind your own fitness level. Don't try to work out for an hour or more

every day just because a friend does. Your body will quickly tell you when it's 17

had enough. Signs of overtraining include: A Healthy


• loss of coordination

• a prolonged period of recovery after exercise

• elevated morning heart rate

• appetite loss

• muscle soreness

• digestive system problems

• lowered ability to fight infection

• irritability and depression

• poor concentration

If you have any of these symptoms, stop exercising for a day or more to give your body time to rest. Decrease your activity level in both duration and frequency. If exercise becomes a compulsive act for you, talk to your doctor. Exercising beyond the point of exhaustion, when injured, or to the exclusion of other activities and life interests can be signs of exercise addiction. Excessive exercising produces results that are completely the opposite of those you intend to achieve. Moderation is the key to success when it comes to exercise and fitness.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
The Most Important Guide On Dieting And Nutrition For 21st Century

The Most Important Guide On Dieting And Nutrition For 21st Century

A Hard Hitting, Powerhouse E-book That Is Guaranteed To Change The Way You Look At Your Health And Wellness... Forever. Everything You Know About Health And Wellness Is Going To Change, Discover How You Can Enjoy Great Health Without Going Through Extreme Workouts Or Horrendous Diets.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment