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Exercise Benefits
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 8:29 pm Reply with quote
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Exercise Benefits

Why is exercise good for me?

Physical exercise can improve both your mental and physical health. The benefits of aerobic exercise include improved cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility. Exercise pumps more blood through your veins. This increases the size of your arteries, prevents fat from clogging your arteries and helps prevent blood clots. A strong heart does not have to work so hard so you are less likely to have a heart attack. Regular exercise also increases your HDL (good) cholesterol and helps lower your total cholesterol. Exercise also helps lower your blood pressure. Your lungs will also benefit from exercise as they become better conditioned so that activities such as climbing stairs will not make you out of breath. Muscles that are not used become small and inelastic, but aerobic exercise will help tone your body by increasing muscle size, strength and flexibility while burning calories. Exercise can also help alleviate stress and make you more productive, so choose something that you enjoy and stick with it.

What does a good exercise program include?

The Surgeon General recommends accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise on most days of the week. Any physical activity is good but regular aerobic exercise will help your body use oxygen more efficiently so your heart, lungs and muscles will be stronger and healthier. Some examples of aerobic exercise are brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming and aerobic dance.

An effective exercise program should include:

Warm-up 3 to 5 minutes
A warm-up gradually increases your heart rate and the blood flow to the heart and muscles preparing them for exercise. To warm-up, do the activity you have chosen (for example walking or biking) at a slower pace for about 5 minutes.

Aerobic Activity

5 to 10 minutes at first gradually increasing to 30-60 minutes. The term aerobic means, "using oxygen." During aerobic exercise you use oxygen to burn calories for energy. You should exercise within your target heart rate zone.

Cool-down 3 to 5 minutes

Cooling down allows your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure to return to normal. It also prevents blood from pooling in your working muscles, returns it to your heart and brain, and prepares your body for stretching. To cool down, decrease your activity to a slower pace for about 5 minutes.

Stretching - 5 to 10 minutes

Stretching will improve your flexibility, decrease muscle soreness and help you relax. Stretch your major muscle groups, the muscles you were using for your exercise. Stretch in a relaxed, controlled manner. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Do not bounce. Never stretch to the point of feeling pain.

Strength training is also a very important component of an exercise program.

What do I need to do before I start an exercise program?

Before beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor if you are over 40or have a history of medical problems. To have an effective exercise program designed just for you call the University of Michigan M-Fit Health Promotion Division at (734) 975-4463.

Information provided by UMHS M-Fit Health Promotion Division, April 2004

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Exercise Benefits
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