THE ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygenated blood to tissues, coupled with the muscles’ proper use oxygen is called cardiovascular fitness.
Aerobic activity increases cardiovascular fitness. It involves using the larger muscle groups during sustained physical movement. Most physical fitness experts recommend doing some aerobic exercise 5-6 days per week for around 30 minutes per session.
Ad most people don’t do it.
Steven Blair of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out the lack of fitness kills more than diabetes, smoking and heart disease combined.
Meanwhile, in America, the Center for Disease Control claims that 80 percent of Americans are not getting exercise regularly.
It is killing them.
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global death according to the World Health Organization. Levels of physical inactivity are rising in many countries. This increase has major implications for health, such as:
• Around 3.2 million deaths per year, including 2.6 million in low- and middle-income countries, are due to physical inactivity.
• Over 670 000 premature deaths (people aged under 60 years).
• Physical inactivity is estimated as being a cause of breast and colon cancer, 27 percent of diabetes and 30 percent of ischaemic heart disease.
The simple things that can increase your life expectancy
Something as simple as taking the stairs or walking the dog twice a day can increase life expectancy by about half a year. It all depends on which statistics are more appealing.
Could it be that we enjoy feeling down and lethargic more than feeling energized? Could it be that, even though we know that inactivity is going to kill us, we just don’t mind dying? After all, who is all that happy anyway?
For many who are diabetic, overweight or obese, exercise as simple as walking for thirty minutes a day helps to manage weight and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels by suppressing appetite and create the kind of calorie deficit that results in weight loss.
Improvement in bone density is inevitable and your heart volume will help decrease your resting heart rate. Lung capacity will be maximized, which is something that many smokers need to recover since smoking clogs the lungs and lowers blood oxygen levels.
Additionally, it improves mood and with better blood flow to muscles, energy naturally increases. In fact, regular exercise may be the most effective and sustainable, long-term treatment for depression on the planet.
One study conducted by Duke University in the late 1990’s divided depressed patients into three treatment groups:
1. Exercise only
2. Exercise plus antidepressant
3. Antidepressant drug only
After six weeks, the drug-only group was doing slightly better than the other two groups. However, after 10 months of follow-up, it was the exercise-only group that had the highest remission and stay-well rate.
Understanding and overcoming the real barriers to fitness
Some reasons people give for not breaking through the physical inactivity barrier are:
• Not enough time to exercise
• Exercise is not enjoyable
• No motivation
• Exercise is inconvenient
• Lack of support
• Lack of skill
• Travel too much
• Lack of facilities such as parks, bicycle trails of walking paths
Of course, all of the above reasons are only a smokescreen. We all know you can get a fine workout by lightly jogging in place while watching TV in your underwear.
The real issue is that 80 percent of us don’t really care how long we live, when it comes right down to it. If you don’t exercise regularly, you don’t care if you die sooner.
This is self-sabotage at its finest.
This is why many experts reverse the saying when I am thin, then I will be happy. It really should be when I am happy, then I will get thin.