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Benefits Of Regular Physical Activity

The benefits of regular physical activity have been well documented and there are continual studies in the literature to support the finding of the important role of habitual exercise in maintaining overall health and well-being. There is also substantial evidence to suggest that regular exercise protects against the development and progression of many chronic diseases and is therefore an essential component of a healthy lifestyle.

Possibly, the most important benefits of physical activity are those that occur in the cardiovascular system. These are primarily due to the overload that is placed on the heart during exercise. The heart responds to exercise by increasing in strength and in size and thus becomes more powerful, as occurs in all your muscles in the body associated with regular exercise. This means that the heart will then be able to pump at a slower rate, yet still pump the same amount of blood out to the body. Accordingly, the heart is then placed under significantly less strain. A slower heart rate will also enable more blood to fill the heart during the relaxation phase (diastole) of the heart cycle and thus theoretically, there may even be an increase in the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat. This then also has implications for blood pressure. Because more blood is being pumped with each beat, there will be less need for the blood vessels to constrict because of the increase in blood volume.

Besides these cardiovascular effects, there are also a number of other adaptations that are also beneficial. Physiological adaptations that occur with regular physical exercise include:
An increase in the amount of oxygen that that the working muscles are able to take in. This means that more oxygen will be available for the same amount of work, thereby making the system more efficient,
An increase in high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) and a decrease in serum triglycerides (bad cholesterol)
A reduction in body fat
A reduction in insulin needs and an improvement in glucose tolerance
Psychological benefits, such as decreased anxiety and depression, enhanced feelings of well being and an enhanced performance of work

Taken collectively, these results suggest that regular physical activity plays an important role in the maintenance of health. General training principles and an overview of the amount of exercise required to produce these effects is discussed below.

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