What is exercise
Knowing the basic rules and benefits of exercising and regular physical activity can undoubtedly reap beneficial rewards in the long-term. Increasingly, exercise and physical activity are treated as one and the same thing.
However, there is a big difference between the two. Physical activity is any type of body movement produced by muscle contraction and which burns calories. Exercise is a subcategory which is measured by amount, intensity and frequency and involves certain repeated movements which are structured to improve or maintain one or more physical components.
Aerobic activities are exercises that move large muscle mass in legs, torso and arms with cyclic and repetitive movements. They involve moderate or light effort over sustained periods of time (at least 15 minutes). For instance some typical aerobic exercises include walking, swimming, running, cross-country skiing and skating.
The intensity of aerobic activity is measured by heart rate. Improvements from regular aerobic activity include reductions in adipose tissue (if accompanied by controlled calorie intake), blood pressure and cholesterol and increases in general stamina and insulin sensitivity, resulting in improved glycaemia control.
Building muscle tone/strength
Exercises to build muscle tone increase general muscle strength by using body weight or resistance. This may involve the use of bands, free weights (dumbbells and barbells) or gym equipment with counterweights or hydraulic systems.
Increasing strength initially comes by improving muscle contraction and then by increasing muscle mass. It is not necessary to build up huge muscles to feel the difference, but it is important to train at a high enough intensity to obtain results.
In other words, generic training has limited benefits in that it only helps to improve and maintain muscle tone, which is important for keeping the muscles functioning efficiently.
By contrast, specific work on postural muscles is beneficial for improving overall posture. †Muscles are also important because they serve as shock absorbers capable of absorbing a great deal of stress and protecting the skeletal system and joints from injury.
Other important benefits are physiological, such as increased heart functionality and efficient blood circulation.
Flexibility enables you to perform all the movements involved in daily life with natural efficiency and ease. Flexibility is the result of elasticity of the muscle and connective tissues, and you can achieve it by performing regular stretching exercises.
An inactive and sedentary lifestyle will lead to the progressive loss of elasticity and increase the risk of muscle tears and changes in posture.
The right physical activity can prevent this type of damage by improving flexibility and correcting bad posture.