Exercise & Rest

Introduction

In the past 15-20 years it has been found that we usually breath too shallowly. Especially when we are stressed or concentrated on our work. Working on computers has made us aware of the need to take a break every hour, at least, and take some deep breaths. Aerobic exercise has been found essential to provide that air we need to manage good combustion of our food. Poor combustion least to free radicals, which are partially oxidised molecules that are linked to cancer.

Air

When exercising we need both air and water. Air is needed to help the combustion of the nutrients to give us energy. This is especially important for our heart. If it does not get enough oxygen it short circuits and stops running properly. Therefore, it is important that we assure good circulation, which we build up slowly through fitness exercises. Also avoid smoking, which not only contaminates the air, but also narrows the blood vessels, constricting its flow and thus the supply of air.

Water

Water is needed to keep everything in our body moving that includes the nutrients as well as the intoxicants. When exercising, we need to drink enough water to make up for the loss by evaporation and sweating. Dehydration causes headaches and can be fatal. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages when exercising, as that puts an additional load on our water requirement and also slows down our system, when we need it most.

Fitness

Over-exertion of an unfit body may cause it to collapse. So, don't run after a bus, or shovel snow (here in Canada) if you are not physically fit. Fitness may be defined as 'the preparedness of the body for a sudden energy surge'.
If we don't exercise regularly, our body can't do it, it does not have the circulation system to provide the blood flow needed to supply the oxygen. Overweight adds an other dimension to the problem: The air and blood supply needed are proportional to the energy required to move the mass. The greater the mass, the greater the need for supplies.

Fitness is developed over time by exercises that push us just a bit beyond our comfort level. These then cause new blood vessels to form in response to the body's need for more blood and oxygen. Therefore, it is best to exercise every other day. That will give us one day to push the envelope and another to grow the vessels. Then back to number one again.

Ideally we exercise all of our muscles. Therefore, our fitness program should be broad and varied. Walking, running, bicycling, roller blading, skiing, dancing, and step exercises are very popular for that reason. Athletic sports are a different matter though.

Aging

Recent studies have proven that exercise can prevent many diseases previously associated with aging. If not too badly damaged, an aging body can even be restored by exercise.
Osteoporosis and heart disease are the most publicized ones, but cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis are also avoided by regular exercise. Please note that this does not mean streneous exercise, but cardiovascular exercise. Health Canada, in co-operation with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, recently published a 'Physical Activity Guide' and a 'Physical Activity Handbook', both can be downloaded from the Web at
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/paguide/
.

Athletics

Athletic exercises differ from fitness exercises, as they are designed to develop specific muscles. e.g. Tennis tends to develop the right arm. Our concern however, is not with the muscle development but with the possible overuse of the bursa, which are the smooth cartilage coatings on the joints. 'Tennis elbow' and 'Squash knees' are the result of gradually wearing out these surfaces, mainly by the shocks they receive. These can be made worse by urea deposits or calcium deposits due to poor nutrition.

Fitness Regimen

Initially, 15 minutes every other day is sufficient to get going. This can be increased to 30 minutes or more per day after about one month. Some people prefer them after work, as it helps a lot to bring the stress level down and get the oxygen back into the body. Others swear by doing it at the beginning of the day, to give them the 'oxygen high' to face their difficult tasks. Hey, if you are really enthusiastic, you can do both!

Caution

Don't overdo it. You don't need to become an Olympic athlete.

Also, exercise makes you hungry. Be careful exercising on an empty stomach, as it may make you dizzy, when your blood sugar drops below the normal level. In that case have a small snack before and after. (No sweets though!). Don't exercise on a full stomach either, as it may draw too much blood to your internal organs to digest your food.

How do you cope with that? Athletes say that you must eat pasta and other complex carbohydrates the evening before your exercise. That will build you the reserves you need.

Rest

Rest and sleep are designed to rebuild our body after its daily tasks. They are needed to help us relax from the stress we had during the day. Sleep is needed to restore the body and to store the memories of the experiences. Ideally, we have a 5 minute rest period every hour. Alternatively a 15 minute break every 2 hours.

Caution: Sitting for too long causes undesirable changes in the shape of the body. Best is to alternate sitting and walking tasks.

Meditation can restore the mind from stress at a much faster rate that changing a task only. A 15 minute meditation can be as good as a 1 hour sleep. It is a great way to recharge your batteries in the middle of the day.


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