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exercise programmes - basic concepts

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
‘Many studies have shown the health and fitness benefits of regular exercise, such as improved metabolic, physiologic, and psychologic parameters, as well as a decreased risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality. These data indicate that individuals who change from a sedentary lifestyle to being physically active, or who change from being physically unfit to physically fit, experience lower rates of disease and premature mortality compared with those who continue to remain sedentary or unfit. This holds true for middle age to older age (forties to eighties), indicating that it is never too late to become physically active to achieve health benefits.’

(ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription – Seventh Edition)


  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Helps control weight.
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
  • Promotes psychological well-being. Positive changes in blood cholesterol.

Specific Health Benefits of Exercise

  1. Heart Disease and Stroke. Daily physical activity can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, raising your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (good cholesterol) and lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels (bad cholesterol), improving blood flow, and increasing your heart's working capacity.
  2. High Blood Pressure. Regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure in those with high blood pressure levels. Physical activity also reduces body fat, which is associated with high blood pressure.
  3. Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis formation (narrowing of the arteries as a result of the thickening of the artery walls) resulting in the risk of heart attack increasing by two to three times. Peripheral arterial disease incidence is elevated, increasing the risk of stroke, and the renal arteries are also commonly involved resulting in renal (kidney) failure. The benefits of exercise therefore include improved insulin sensitivity, improved blood lipid profiles, decreased heart rate and blood pressure at rest, decreased body weight, and decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
  4. Obesity. Obesity is primarily caused by a positive energy balance. The energy balance is the difference between energy intake (calories consumed) and energy expenditure (calories expended throughresting energy metabolism and physical activity). Therefore, weight gain occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Physical activity helps to reduce body fat by building or preserving muscle mass and improving the body's ability to use calories. When physical activity is combined with proper nutrition, it can help control weight and prevent obesity, a major risk factor for many diseases.
  5. Back Pain. By increasing muscle strength and endurance and improving flexibility and posture, regular exercise can help prevent back pain.
  6. Osteoporosis. Exercise, particularly resistance-based and weight bearing activities, may increase bone material and help modify risk factors associated with frature. These include an increase in muscle strength, bone-mineral density and dynamic balance.
  7. Psychological Effects. Regular physical activity can help decrease daily and chronic stress, improve self confidence and body image, enhance moods, help allieviate depression and anxiety, increase alertness and mental health, and help you feel great overall. Exercise not only improves physical health, but also mental health. Uniting the physical and psychological benefits of exercise will definitely help enhance the quality of life.