What is exercise? Definition

According to The Free Dictionary, exercise is defined as physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body.

The dictionary further adds that the purpose of exercise is to improve health, maintain fitness, and is important as a means of physical rehabilitation.

Simply put, this definition is trying to tell you: “Do your exercises every day and you will be doing your body and yourself a great favor”.

As President John F. Kennedy once said:

“We are under-exercised as a nation. We look instead of play. We ride instead of walk. Our existence deprives us of the minimum physical activity essential for healthy living.”

However, most of us realize this but are just too lazy to implement it.

Why you should exercise?

Regular exercise combined with a regular balanced diet increases your physical fitness and improves overall health. It improves your immune system and prevents diseases and health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.

Though exercise is a physical activity and has physical benefits, its benefits on the mental state of a person are also tremendous and even therapeutic in certain mental conditions. In other words, the benefits of regular exercise improve physical and mental well-being and can even cure you of some health conditions.

Many from the medical fraternity refer to exercise as a miracle medicine or a wonder drug because of its preventive and therapeutic benefits on our bodies.

It lifts up your spirits and keeps you mentally more healthy and active. It helps prevent mental conditions like stress, mental anxiety, and depression.

These benefits accrue only if your exercise program is regular and well-planned. This post describes how much you should exercise with a weekly and daily exercise plan 

How to use every opportunity to exercise?

Small opportunities can be used to great benefit by us. For example, when sitting in front of the television, you could use the commercial breaks period to do some small exercise, which could benefit you and prevent certain health conditions. For example, you could:

  • Do some neck exercises by slowly rotating your head clockwise a few times (say ten times) and then anti-clockwise. This will strengthen your neck and cervical muscles and prevent cervical spondylosis. Just do this once or twice a day. This is especially indicated if you are doing a desk job or reading a lot.
  • Similarly, you could rotate your wrists clockwise and then anticlockwise. This could help prevent conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. This is especially applicable if you work long hours on the computer.
  • Stand up and do some bending exercises for your belly fat. This will also help strengthen your back muscles and prevent you from developing back pain, which is quite common and known to cause serious complications.
  • You could keep the treadmill in front of the television and use it while watching your favorite program.
  • Walk wherever possible instead of using transport. See these benefits of walking.
  • Climb the staircase instead of using the elevator, if your age and health permits.

Types of exercise

Basically, exercises are classified into three types to satisfy your requirements.

  1. Flexibility exercises such as stretching exercises improve the flexibility of the muscles and improve the performance of the joints.
  2. Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, running, and similar physical activities improve stamina and cardiovascular function.
  3. Anaerobic exercises such as weight training build muscle strength.

These different types of exercises cater to different needs. You would want

  • to build muscle, or
  • increase stamina, or
  • build up the efficiency of your heart and lungs or
  • increase joint efficiency.

Which is the best exercise to build stamina or increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs or to build muscle?  This post will explain and you could then choose the type of exercise.

Exercise is a great boon to a person who adapts to do it regularly supported by a proper diet. That his health will remain good is almost a certainty.

Many medical experts agree and consider exercise as a miracle drug imbibing in you, physical and mental health benefits, and helping to prevent many diseases.

You must precede and follow up every kind of exercise with warm-up exercises.

1. Flexibility or stretching exercises

These are gentle exercises that stretch the muscles of the body part that is being exercised and the muscles and tendons of the joint that is being put through the full range of motion.

As the name suggests, these are done to improve the flexibility and movements of the muscles. Tai-chi and yoga are examples of stretching exercises. Pilates is another example that is advised for pregnant women.

Doing these types of exercises every day prevents you from developing muscle soreness and joint stiffness even in later years of life. Examples of such conditions are a “muscle pull”, back pain caused by muscle spasms, and “tennis elbow”.

Stretching exercises also improve your posture and blood circulation and help maintain normal and full movement patterns.

They are done either before or after other types of exercises in your full exercise program. It is important that you do these exercises in the right way.

2. Aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercises are low to moderate-intensity exercises done for an extended period (20 to 30 minutes) that build your cardiovascular endurance – and therefore they are also called “cardio” or cardiovascular exercises.

They increase the strength and function of the heart and lungs and improve the blood flow throughout the body. It is the most effective exercise to lose your extra weight as it helps burn calories and fats. Examples include walking, running, jogging, swimming, dancing, etc.

In this exercise, you breathe in deeper and more rapidly taking in more air (oxygen) to meet the additional requirement of the energy being spent. The energy demand is therefore met by the oxygen and hence the name “aerobic” meaning dependent on air or oxygen.

3. Anaerobic exercises

Anaerobic exercise is also called strength training exercise as it is mostly done to build up strength, power, and speed and by weight-lifters to increase the strength and endurance of the muscles. Examples of anaerobic exercises are sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, weight lifting, and sprinting.

Being an exercise of high intensity, its requirement for energy exceeds the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen. The body cannot get enough oxygen to meet the demand for extra energy from this intense exercise.

The muscles, therefore, derive the required energy from anaerobic metabolism (anaerobic meaning without oxygen). These exercises are therefore short duration exercises lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes and the oxygen deficit that is built up during these exercises is later replenished.

Besides building up muscle strength and tone, these exercises also increase the strength of the ligaments, tendons, and bone giving an improved appearance. Metabolic efficiency is also improved.