Throughout history, the wise have understood that a healthy body and a healthy mind complement each other, and jointly contribute to us leading long and healthy lives. The ancient Greeks trained their children in their equivalent of gymnasiums every day in addition to learning reading, writing and mathematics.
Today, despite having access to better medical treatment than at any point in history, populations in the wealthy countries of the world are more at risk than ever before from obesity and other disorders caused partly or fully by a lack of exercise.
This is because we live in a world with an ample supply of unhealthy food and an abundance of pastimes which don’t involve any physical exercise.
Adults with busy lifestyles tend to rely on food that’s ready to eat or quick and easy to prepare, which often means fast food or ready-meals that tend to be high in sugar and fat. Young people tend to consume processed junk food and spend hours sitting dormant in front of TV screens or playing video games.
For these reasons, it is more important than ever that we all remain aware of the benefits of physical exercise and try to incorporate it into our weekly routines.
As a guideline, each week we should try to burn off at least the same approximate number of calories that we store. If our bodies continuously store more calories than they use, this creates what’s called a calorie surplus, and without exercise, it makes us accumulate fatty tissues, gain weight, and become less healthy.
It is true that an individual who already has a normal and healthy body shape can remain that way without exercising just by having a healthy diet, but good diet alone cannot achieve the same levels of health and fitness that can be obtained through a combination of the right diet and regular physical exercise.
As well as preventing the build-up of excess calories, exercise enhances the body in a variety of ways, such as improving strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and coordination, and cardiovascular efficiency. As well as improving our daily quality of life, these things help us stay fit and healthier for longer throughout our lives and into our old age.
We should aim to exercise in ways that achieve three things: the burning of calories, the toning of muscles, and the improvement of cardiovascular fitness. Good exercises for these are aerobic pursuits like running, swimming, cycling, rowing and exercise to music.
Those looking for significantly enhanced strength or size beyond what can be achieved through aerobic exercises should explore weight based training and restraint based exercises.
It can often seem difficult for us to incorporate an exercise regime into our lives. Many of us are kept very busy with work or family commitments and don’t get a lot of time to ourselves.
Effective exercise doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or involve going to the gym. Spending half an hour jogging outside or on a treadmill at home three times a week will be enough to keep most people at a healthy weight level. Cycling to and from work each morning, if possible, is also an excellent way to stay in shape.
If you can make time to go to a local gym, fitness centre or swimming pool, that’s great, but if not, there are plenty of ways to fit exercise into your life, so be creative and find what works best for you.
How do you stay fit and healthy? Do you exercise at home or outside your home?