Exercise has a powerful effect on your physical, mental and emotional health. It is a profoundly useful means for being proactive about your health. The benefits of exercise are extensive – it boosts your metabolism and keeps you vital, it keeps your body strong and functional, it is great for cardiovascular health, it is essential to maintain reflexes, balance and stability, quickness and power. It improves your bioage and keeps you young!
It is a very effective means for injury prevention because it maintains strength, core stability, joint stability and range of motion. It is effective for the rehabilitation of joint function and back injuries or pain. It also has proven medicinal effects in preventing disease, reversing disease, and recovering from disease including diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease. The end effect of exercise is that you simply feel great.
But what is ‘exercise’ really? I answer this as simply the replication of the work humans would have done historically in order to survive. As homo sapiens we have walked, run, climbed, dug, carried, battled, danced, jumped, kicked, thrown and possibly many other things I can’t imagine.
Humans have used their bodies to apply strength through the full range of movement to find food, catch food, carry food, fight over food, to build, to destroy, to survive, to win and to celebrate. As a result the natural state of the body, barring injury or disease, is to be healthy – by which I mean functional, strong, lean, efficient, stable, balanced, quick and agile.
Humans have now rendered their bodies largely irrelevant to the process of survival. This goes against the design of the body and so it gets lame and sick as a result. Therefore we have to mimic the work that the body was designed for in order to stimulate it into it’s innate and natural state.
More precisely exercise can be described as: any activity that stimulates the physiology of the body in order to achieve it’s natural state of efficiency, movement and function. The qualification is that some exercise is more effective or more relevant than others, or achieves outcomes more efficiently.
Exercise works by causing stresses that in turn results in adaptation. By stressing muscles they respond by becoming stronger and more efficient. By stressing the cardiovascular system it responds by becoming stronger and more efficient. Exercise stress improves everything from metabolism to bone density through this process of adaptation.
Fitness is a state of capacity and efficiency. For example an athlete has a high capacity for the work they have trained for (function), and their body has become very efficient in producing energy for that work (metabolism). You might not be an athlete but exercise will improve your capacity and efficiency and your quality of life – beyond measure.