The Benefits of Exercise: Back to Basics

Posted by Said Lissone on Thursday, 14 August 2014 in Physical Therapy

The Benefits of Exercise: Back to Basics
Participating in regular exercise is the only way to achieve and maintain the health of our precious body, mind, and spirit. Regardless of this, we are often misguided by the supplement and beauty industry into believing that physical exercise is merely an adjunct to the products they are selling to us and profiting from. As a passionate health professional I want to remind you of the reasons why exercise is beneficial to our overall health. Exercise causes long-term physiological adaptation including improvements in heart function, muscle strength, muscle endurance and body composition. These adaptations allow you to better perform the activities of daily life and help to maintain your functional independence as you age.

A common axiom is resistance training strengthens and sculpts our muscles. What is less widely discussed is that the tendons, ligaments and other supporting structures in our body also get stronger when engaging in this type of exercise. Additionally, the density of our capillaries increases to compensate for the increased oxygen demand of our muscles. Changes in our nervous system also occur with resistance training. These include increased neural drive resulting in more forceful muscle contractions and improved communication between our brain, muscles and peripheral sensory systems. This type of neural adaptation is the reason why exercise is so effective in improving the symptoms of central nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s and others.

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Cardiovascular exercise also induces specific physiological adaptations. The most apparent adaptation is the increased efficiency of the little engine of life, our heart. On average, the resting heart rate decreases by 10 – 15 beats per minute. Blood pressure decreases in untrained individuals who engage in regular cardiovascular exercise. The reason our heart function improves is because our heart literally increases in volume, what we call healthy cardiac hypertrophy. Invariably our heart also gets stronger. A stronger and bigger heart means that the heart can pump more blood with less effort. In essence, cardiovascular exercise is a drug-free approach to reducing blood pressure and can prevent many dangerous diseases of the cardiovascular system over time.

It is well known that cardiovascular exercise and resistance training is beneficial for people with diabetes. It improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity through a combination of physiological adaptations and changes in body composition. Guidelines on exercise jointly released by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine say regular exercise can tame Type 2 Diabetes. These guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week spread out at least three days with no more than two days between each exercise session. Considering individual limitations, diabetes should not be an excuse to avoid physical activity.

Exercise is the magic elixir, the fountain of youth, and the panacea. Now that I have reinforced what you already knew, Saïd says, “Exercise, be healthy, and love your life!” FYZICAL Sarasota Main Street offers PT-directed fitness training along with a modern fitness center, complete with a full line of strength and cardio equipment.

Always consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.