The term “physical activity” refers to a wide range of activities and movements, including activities of daily living such as walking, gardening, heavy housework or dancing. “Exercise” is also a type of physical activity and refers to planned, structured and repetitive movements of the body with the aim of improving or maintaining one or more aspects of physical health, confirmed to AIM Dr Sergio Slimovic, MD. in endocrinology and metabolism and an expert in health promotion and disease prevention.
However, the professional clarified that there is widespread public and media coverage of the health benefits of regular physical exercise; A “sedentary lifestyle” is increasing among the general population, and hardly anyone is escaping this trend.
In a dialogue with this agency, the expert explained that “physical exercise is an activity that all human beings perform to varying degrees during our existence. The inclination to exercise is a natural tendency that has a purely emotional component that produces pleasure. In addition, exercise keeps the body flexible and has a profound psychological and social impact, but lack of it predisposes to many diseases. However, it should be borne in mind that although exercise is beneficial to physical and mental health, and inactivity is harmful, too much is also harmful.”
Despite all the proven health benefits of physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle is still very important among the population of different countries. The conveniences that modern life brings make people adopt a less active lifestyle, reducing the duration and intensity of their daily movements.
On the other hand, most of the work tasks are not related to active exercise, not to mention the work pressure that increasingly limits free time, and the great technical progress favors the lack of physical activity. People travel by car or bus and watch TV or sit in front of their computer most of the day. All this has led today’s man to a progressive distancing from physical activity, which must be reversed.
Physical exercise creates well-being, prevents and improves health problems
Anyone who has done or does physical exercise regularly knows very well the “feel good” it provides. Physical exercise reduces the state of emotional tension caused by an excess of the main stress hormone (distress), which is cortisol, and increases other substances known as endorphins, which make you feel good. Endorphins are opiate neurotransmitters that are produced in the brain and have similar effects to opium, the drug that can be obtained from the poppy, and act as natural pain relievers (but apparently without the negative effects of drugs).
Shlimovic specified that “endorphins are released during training, which cause a feeling of euphoria and a general state of well-being. These endorphins can be so powerful that they even mask pain. But these are not the only substances that are involved in physical exercise, other hormones and neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine also interact, which improves and improves the state of well-being.
Physical exercise is one of the main factors for strengthening health, as well as for the prevention of many diseases. Its regular practice allows to generate adaptations in various systems such as cardio-pulmonary and musculoskeletal to improve the condition and function of the body. Physical, psychological, and social benefits of exercise have been attributed to children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly; in healthy and sick people; in schools and companies. “Scientific evidence shows important benefits that link physical activity to improved health,” Slimovic explained, noting that therefore “people who have risk factors for a particular disease or if it is already established, regular exercise represents an invaluable therapeutic resource.”
The main benefits described are a reduction in body weight, a reduction in the incidence of various diseases (cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cerebrovascular accident (CVA), obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and other lipids, osteoporosis, etc.) and a reduction of the risk of certain types of cancer (lung, colon, breast and multiple myeloma). To achieve health benefits, exercise must be practiced regularly and be appropriate for each person. Recommended activities are aerobic and recreational activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing.
The best time to exercise
Starting the day with exercise has many advantages and some disadvantages. The best thing is that the body is rested and we are in a better physical condition, and this energy that is felt after physical exertion lasts for several hours. The body generates endorphins and nitric oxide (a natural vasodilator), which contribute to a good mood and stressful situations have less impact. “If we wait until the end of the day to do physical activity, the benefit of the mood effect is lost. The disadvantage of exercising in the morning is that the body temperature is low and the muscles are asleep for hours, and the risk of injury increases if proper stretching is not done.
It’s often hard to get off to a good start, and on the other hand, cortisol is at its peak in the morning and this can cause increased fatigue.
The professional added that numerous studies show that sunset is the best time to exercise. “During this period of the day, between 4 and 5 p.m., the body temperature is at its highest and the muscles are better prepared to cope with the exercise load. In addition, strength, anaerobic performance and endurance are also improved at this time of day.”
For adults and seniors, the hours between 7pm and 9pm are the best time to maintain good growth hormone levels. “This hormone has important functions in humans, but it is different according to age. While in childhood and adolescence its main action is to make organs and tissues grow; in adulthood, its main effect is the maintenance of the function of these organs and tissues, as well as the maintenance of restorative systems. It turns out that with advancing age, this hormone gradually decreases its concentration in the body, and intense night physical exercises manage to stimulate the growth hormone axis, minimizing its decline with advancing age,” assured the doctor.
The levels of physical activity required to maintain good health are not necessarily high intensity; on the contrary, moderate regular exercise is most effective in maintaining good physical condition. Therefore, you don’t need to be trained like an athlete to get results, and sedentary people can improve their fitness by starting with short bursts of light exercise until they reach their desired pace. The first thing for an inactive person is to start moving, even if only for a few minutes a day; Perhaps this is the most important point to initiate a lifestyle change in physical activity.
There is no doubt that the best recommendation for health and a long life is to regularly practice some regular physical exercises. It is always advisable to carry out a preliminary fitness assessment and then prescribe a training plan from a professional that will be progressive and suitable for each individual case. However, for one reason or another, not everyone can manage to incorporate a regular exercise program into their lifestyle, but it is possible to increase daily physical activity to get rid of a sedentary lifestyle. For them, here are small tips on how to make physical activity a part of life:
• Walk instead of using transport: if we use public transport, get off a few stops before our destination. We use the car or other motor vehicle less, and when we do, we try to park it in a place further away than usual.
• Take two minutes every hour at work or at home to “stretch your legs” and mobilize your muscles.
• Take advantage of your free time to mobilize your joints with low-intensity exercise.
• Take a short walk before breakfast or dinner (or both).
• Swap 10 minutes of TV for a few laps around the block.
• Walk or cycle to make simple everyday purchases.
• Take the dog for a walk every day (if we have the pet, of course).
• When walking, try to gradually speed up your pace. If possible, choose trails with ascents and descents (easy to find in Entre Ríos).
• When watching TV, try to do it sitting up instead of lying down or stretched out in an armchair. We have the remote control far away to mobilize when we want to change the channel (not so easy if we usually skip).
• Talk on the phone standing up, with minimal movement, instead of sitting.
• Do things for yourself. Let us not ask them to bring us something, we must seek it.
• If work allows, take a break (eg lunch time) and use 10 minutes for brisk walking.
From AIM Newsroom