The benefits of having an active lifestyle are numerous; from a better cardiovascular system to better posture, balance and healthier lungs to lessening the risk of developing major diseases.
The importance of being in good physical shape
The benefit of achieving or maintaining a good state of health and fitness is to be able to perform the activities of daily living effectively, with good levels of strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness. Increasing the level of activity reduces the likelihood of developing diseases such as; hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer.
To improve health, it is important to be physically active and to follow a few guidelines proposed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA). These recommendations are for everyone between 18 and 65 years old. In general, they recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
Specific benefits of exercise:
- Better cardiovascular system. The heart contracts effectively, and blood circulates with less effort which improves blood supply in the coronary arteries. Exercising consistently can reduce the heart rate even at rest. It also improves the elasticity of blood vessels which helps to keep blood pressure down.
- Stronger musculoskeletal system. The increase in bone and muscle mass and in muscle strength and flexibility ensures the prevention of osteoporosis and sarcopenia, while supporting the spine and muscles in general. Being active also helps prevent falls and fractures in the elderly.
- Clearer respiratory. An increased ability of the alveoli in the lungs to dilate to help take in oxygen and to ensure an adequate respiratory volume by limiting the reduction that occurs as a result of aging.
- Better metabolism and body composition. Physical activity helps reduce body fat mass, increase lean body mass and improve the lean to fat mass ratio. Energy expenditure increases which helps control body weight.
- Good psychosocial aspects. With a better state of health you can live life fully and do all kinds of activities for longer. Taking part in sports groups also helps develop social relationships and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.
There are four types of physical activity:
Aerobic – stimulates the cardiorespiratory system and improves metabolism; even activities such as walking at a slightly faster pace, swimming, cycling, and running.
Muscle strengthening – helps maintain efficient muscles by activities such as lifting.
Balance and stretching – helps reduce the risk of falls and trauma while maintaining the elasticity of muscles and tendons and improving postural stability.