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Fitness Exercise & Health
by Mark C. Anderson, M.P.H., CHES
Improvements to our overall health by increasing the frequency and duration of our exercise efforts is well documented (Ross & Hayes, Salonen, et al).
Virtually every study examining fitness indicates that regular exercise, over time, will result in fewer heart disease episodes and, in a very real sense, contribute to a longer life span, as cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the U.S.
When we get asked in a poll or survey, nearly 50% of us report that we engage in some form of exercise (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services).
However, a review of our exercise habits show that only about 25% of us are engaging in a physical activity at a level that actually produces some tangible results in respect to preventing premature death or disability (Ross & Hayes).
What this means is that while many of us say we exercise or do pilates, most of us are not doing it often enough or long enough to get the real benefit for our heart and lungs.
The arguments go something like this:
At the same time, we must understand that to make lasting changes on our health we must involve ourselves in an activity of an aerobic nature.
All that simply means is we have to get our hearts pounding and lungs breathing at a faster and heavier rate than normal, and keep them going at that rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes AND we have to do it 3 or 4 times a week.
The golfers may think they are working out, yet the duration, the time spent walking from one shot to the next, and the intensity, just how hard they are breathing and beating, is comparatively mild. It is a low impact, low energy sport (stress does not count) which is low on the aerobic activity chart.
The same is true for softball and baseball: a few seconds of exertion followed by many minutes of waiting for something to happen. This is not to say that the players may not be fit, especially at the professional level.
They spend much time at both strength building and aerobic exercise to allow them to excel when the time comes during the game. The game itself, as played by the pros and us minor leaguers, is low on the aerobic activity chart.
Stationary biking is a step, or pedal, in the right direction. By exercising the 2 largest muscle groups in the body, the legs, the demand for oxygen, and the means of circulating the oxygen in the blood, increases. This causes our heart to beat faster and our lungs to breath heavier, which is a good definition of aerobic exercise.
The key is to apply yourself to the routine, as opposed to ju...