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29.12.2007 Health

Take to exercise and harvest the benefits

By The Mirror/Emefa Tamakloe-Oddam

It has been stressed, time and again, that we must engage in regular physical exercise in order to keep our bodies healthy and strong. Do you know that physical fitness can also improve nearly every other aspect of our lives - occupational, academic, emotional and so on?

Many people are drawn into fitness programmes for the cosmetic benefits they offer - a slim and beautiful figure with well-toned muscles or a strong, solid and firm body with muscular definition. They want a trim waistline, a healthy skin, the absence of flabby tissues or just to shed off fat.

Even if their motivation is fuelled by the aesthetic appeal, they soon start to feel better, physically and mentally. Regular physical exercise can enhance our health and our overall quality of life.

First, the heart capacity and efficiency of the lungs are improved, blood circulation gets better, the muscles and bones are strengthened and the result is increased energy, vigour, stamina, endurance, and flexibility. Your more agile body can now deal with the routine demands of daily life more easily as it can now work longer and at greater levels of intensity.

Exercise helps lower the proportion of bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. It also uses up fat and stimulates the production of lean tissue, making obesity unlikely. Thus, the risk of developing heart disease, stroke hypertension, diabetes and some forms of cancer are greatly reduced and should such a disease be present, it helps in management.

In addition, you build a more defensive immune system, which sharpens your ability to ward of infectious diseases. You fall sick less often and even when you do, the severity and duration are lessened.

Wounds heal faster. Menstrual cramps, joint aches and some other forms of body pains are eliminated or less felt. Even the ability to withstand physical pain is enhanced. Is constipation a problem? Alongside a diet rich in fibre and fluids, exercise helps bowels move more freely.

Regular exercise also promotes the accumulation of calcium into the bones.
Do take a diet rich in calcium and you end up with much stronger bones, giving you protection against osteoporosis and a wobbly, stooped posture in the later years. '

It is generally agreed that people who exercise regularly with a reasonable degree of vigour live longer than their counterparts who lead sedentary lives, all other things being equal. Aside protection against disease that exercise gives, it has been verified that it slows down the process of ageing and hence maintaining youthfulness.

Genetics, nutrition, and several other factors all have a say in an individual's peculiar conditions. Nonetheless, whoever one is and whatever the circumstances under which one lives, being physitally active always does a lot of good.

It has been known for a long time that active people react less severely to stressful conditions. There is a kind of positive and pleasurable feeling of relaxation exercise gives. A feeling of euphoria that is best experienced than described. You feel good, more confident with higher self-esteem. Sleep is more sound, more relaxing and more beneficial. Stress is better managed and depression looks for the exit.

On the first of January each year, millions of us make resolutions to lead a more fulfilling life in the new year. We vow to awake, stir and get up doing. Whether we are able to meet our own expectations or not, each and everyone can judge for himself.

One way we can build a more resilient character and bring out our best is to make exercise a habit. Something happens when we consistently engage in physical exercise. Gradually, your mental outlook seems more positive. You have more confidence, or a stronger self-image and feel in control.

Whatever we choose to do, exercise helps us to focus more on the task at hand. Can you picture the occupational reward? These traits are a definite plus when wanting to land a job, earn a promotion, build or expand a business, write a book, compose a song or do anything to improve our lives.

Physical exercise is truly beneficial. Whatever it takes, do exercise.