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Exercise & your body

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An overview of exercise and its effects on the body. It also contains a guide to safe-aspects during exercise.
Dr B Ravinder Reddy
Hyderabad, India

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Exercise & your body

  1. 1. Exercise & Your BodyDr B. Ravinder ReddyMBBS, MS, FRCS (Edinburgh), FRCS (Glasgow)Consultant Gastro-Intestinal & General SurgeonChief of Clinical NutritionCare Hospitals, Hyderabad, IndiaIntroduction: Human body is an incredibly complex and an amazing well-designed machine! Regular exercise, along with consuming a healthy diet willensure that all parts of this marvelous machine work in top order! The following10 questions and answers will help you to motivate and maintain a healthyexercise regime.1. What is exercise? Exercise is a physical activity that is repetitive, structured and planned. Itimproves health, maintains fitness and conditions all parts of the body.Common examples are walking, jogging, cycling, stretching, swimming andweight lifting.2. What happens when we exercise?As soon as we start exercising, immediate changes are seen in three areas:breathing, heart beat and muscles.The rate of breathing increases almost immediately to provide more air withinthe lungs, thereby providing more oxygen.Heart rate increases simultaneously to provide more blood to all the muscleswhich are working and also to the supporting tissues. This supplies more oxygenand nutrients, which are necessary to provide more energy.Muscles, which are mainly responsible for producing the physical activity,contract and relax and also cause movements in the various joints, so in this wayutilise and spend energy.So, in short, exercise causes lungs to obtain more oxygen; heart & blood vesselsdistribute oxygen and muscles consume oxygenWhen these three areas function correctly, our stamina (aerobic capacity)increases. Good stamina means healthy and a long life! 1
  2. 2. 3. How do these three changes of exercise happen?Once we start exercising, our heart beat increases from resting rate of 60 to 70 toa maximum of 200 per minute. Simultaneously, our lungs increase the breathingcapacity from a resting amount of 6 to 10 liters per minute to a phenomenal levelof 150 to 200 liters per minute! Blood flow to the muscles increase from a restingamount of 15% to 88%, with simultaneous increase in blood pressure. Thisincrease in blood pressure will not affect the body. The increase in all theseparameters depends on the age, fitness and health of the person.4. How long these changes last?The changes are of two types, temporary and permanent.The rapid increase in heart beat, respiration rate, blood pressure and increase inblood supply to muscles are all the temporary changes! These return to normalsoon after exercise.Permanent changes are seen when exercise is done on a regular basis, with aconsistency of at least 5 days a week. The body then adapts to these acutechanges and benefits are seen. These benefits are improvement in overall health,increased fitness and conditioning of all the parts of the body. These are calledbeneficial exercise adaptations.5. How long does it take for these beneficial adaptations to take place?Beneficial adaptations take place after 12 weeks of regular exercise, which meansyou start to enjoy the benefits of exercise only after 12 weeks. The heart musclesbecome stronger and better, and the heart beat reduces. Lower the heart beat atresting state, the healthier the heart and the blood pressure comes down! Lungsstart to breath-in more air and help in pumping more oxygen and nutrients to allparts of the body. Muscles get better and their strength increases. The ranges ofmovement of all the joints improve and reduce the degenerative process andarthritis. Long term exercise affects the brain by increasing its efficiency and alsoimproves immunity, thereby increasing the resistance to infections!Exercise has to be done regularly and consistently, in order to get the benefits.6. What are the benefits of exercise? i. Longevity of life: Regular exercise improves the functions of all the body systems and increases the immunity. So it is a known fact that regular 2
  3. 3. physical exercise increases the longevity of life. There are many research papers to support this notion. ii. Increased functional capacity: Regular exercise will increase the body’s functional capacity. This increases the ability to perform daily activities with vitality and alertness.iii. Decreased fat and increased muscle: Regular exercise decreases body fat slowly, especially if you one is doing a low intensity and prolonged duration of exercise. To improve the muscle power, one must do strength exercises at least 2 to 3 times a week. A person’s fatness or muscularity explains the food and activity habits of that person.iv. Increased flexibility: Regular exercise must be accompanied with mobility exercises like brisk walking or jogging. These will help to maintain the joint movement and the elastic ability of the muscles and tendons. v. Better Lipid profile: Regular exercise increases the good cholesterol (HDL). Most of us Indians have poor HDL and regular exercise is the only way to improve the good cholesterol, reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce triglyceride (free fat) levels!vi. Protection from heart disease and diabetes: Regular exercise reduces the chances of blocking the blood vessels to the heart muscle, therefore reducing the risk of heart attacks. Even in persons with heart diseases, regular exercises are an important part of healing and rehabilitation. Regular exercise in persons with diabetes will help to control the blood sugar level.vii. Protection from Osteoporosis: Regular exercise along with good diet protects from osteoporosis (weakened bones) 3
  4. 4. viii. Better Immunity: Regular exercise increases our body’s proteins, the immunoglobulins, which are responsible for maintaining our immunity. It is known fact that better exercise leads to better immunity. ix. Mental wellbeing: Persons who exercise regularly have a more positive attitude and it increases their mental wellbeing. x. Exercise doesnt cost you: Effective exercise can be done anywhere! It does not need a gym or a health club! A person can walk or jog regularly at any safe place. All it needs is consistency and regularity, for 30 minutes a day, for at least 5 days a week.7. Who can do regular exercise?Whether you are 9 years or 90 years, scientific evidence shows that regularexercise can enhance your health and well being! However, persons with chronicconditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases should contact adoctor or myself (at the number provided) before commencing exercise.8. How much exercise do I need?To maintain a healthy weight one must perform 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, 5days a week. It is the duration that is more important than the exact calories youspend! Persons with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure andstable heart diseases should perform at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days aweek.9. What are the different kinds of exercise?There are many types of exercises: Aerobic activity (or also called cardiovascularexercise), Strength training, Flexibility exercises, Balance exercises, Relaxation 4
  5. 5. exercises (Yoga & Tai Chi). Aerobic activity effects the entire body and tones upthe whole body!10. Which is the “best” exercise?Any kind of exercise will be beneficial. However, the simplest, the best andcheapest is brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week! Thisaerobic activity can be done at home or in garden or park or on treadmill!Contact Details:Dr B Ravinder Reddy, Consultant Gastrointestinal Surgeon, Care Hospital can becontacted on +9198490 01345Email: bravinderreddy@doctor.com 5

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