When you stop and think about it, the benefits of being an active person are really the reasons why you may start a program, and more importantly, why you hopefully will stick at this new life-style.
The benefits are enormous but will vary greatly from individual to individual.
Any change in your life-style has to be a personal commitment. You have to want to do it. Furthermore you have to believe that you will gain these benefits and that you will reach the particular goals that you have set for yourself.
But remember — Give yourself time. You definitely need around three months to create permanent change.
Depending on the type of program you choose and your current level of fitness the benefits from an ‘Active’ lifestyle will vary. In fact it is probably a good idea to have personal goals that you actually keep to yourself. Goals that readily come to mind could be such things as:
- To sleep better
- To cope with stress
- To have more energy
- To control your weight
- To look and feel better
- Increased strength
- Increased endurance
- To slow down the ageing process
The list goes on. All of the above can easily be yours if you want. But, by our nature, we generally want all of the above and more, but we normally leave it to chance and use the multitude of excuses already discussed for not leading an ‘Active’ life-style. Although all items on the sample list above are important, I feel most people could rank them l – 8 in order of priority. You will have particular needs and you should recognise these and strive to change and improve the aspect of your health which is most manageable to you. Besides, all the rest will eventually fall into place anyway.
Having given the whole topic a great deal of thought, if I was asked, Why am I ‘Active’? I would have to be honest and answer “To maintain correct body weight and tone”. I really do not like carrying excess weight and I like my food so being ‘Active’ enables me to easily maintain my current body weight, so that is my major personal driving force or motivation.
On the other hand, I have, over the years, come to realise one very important component of being active and the importance of staying that way. In a word – “OXYGEN”. I have a plentiful supply of oxygen and more importantly, I am able to use large supplies of oxygen both at rest and at play.
There is no doubt that as we age, especially if we are sedentary, than we lose this
ability to absorb and utilise oxygen. I notice that the medical profession realise and note that the major common denominator in the majority of diseases is THE LACK OF OXYGEN. The body can cope with poisons and inefficiency for so long until fresh and sufficient oxygen is not regularly available. Oxygen is our lifeline.
How is your oxygen level?
No matter how expensive a car you drive, it certainly will be going nowhere if you run out of fuel.
Well, it is the same with us.
The amount of oxygen you have available can easily be tested by an exercise physiologist. He will test your maximum V02. This means the maximum volume of oxygen you have available per kilogram of body weight per minute.
This is a very important figure and if you have been sedentary and you become ‘Active’ than this is one area that will improve both quickly and dramatically.
Still you do not have to have a VO2 test to know if you have sufficient oxygen. Simply walk briskly up 2 —3 flights of stairs! When you start to puff you are running out of oxygen! Hopefully once you start your program you will notice a big improvement. In fact it is a good idea to actually devise a simple test over a set course to determine how long or far it takes you to start to puff. Later on do the same course and you will be delighted with the new you. But remember, this extra oxygen is not only providing more fuel and energy, but it is helping greatly to fight off disease by enabling the various organs and body systems to effectively cope with and remove the poisons from our everyday life. A very sobering thought.
Often you can talk about the lack of oxygen to your virtually ‘blue’ in the face and people do not really believe you. I recall taking a group of senior students to the top of the rather steep stairs at our local railway station. I simply asked them to observe the people (commuters who had travelled from Sydney) as they walked up the stairs.
At the end of the half hour they basically were disgusted. I no longer had to explain the problems of a lack of oxygen and premature ageing. I hope they never let this happen to them.
One of the funny incidents however was a forty year old man came bounding up the stairs, whistling and obviously full of life. The students reaction was to find out what was wrong with him because he was so different. Wouldn’t you like to be different?
If you were to ask your doctor, dietitian, or exercise physiologist the benefits of being ‘Active’, they would all wholeheartedly agree that our bodies need regular activity. This is one area of human behaviour where there is no disagreement. We have discussed general benefits but if you need even more convincing than the following is a brief list of training effects that are expected especially for that all important Circulatory System.
Training Effects of Regular Exercise on the Heart and Circulatory System and Body…
- Increased heart efficiency with decreased heart rate at rest.
- Increase in size and strength of the heart muscle.
- Quicker recovery rate after exercise and work.
- Lower blood pressure levels.
- Elasticity of the blood vessels increases making the work of the heart easier.
- Increased amount of blood.
- Opening of new blood vessels resulting in larger and healthier muscles.
- Lower levels of fat in the blood also cholesterol levels.
- Metabolism rate becomes quicker and ‘burns’ up more calories.
- Increase in the heart’s stroke volume (blood pumped out each beat). This also allows the heart to have more time to rest.
- Increase in the number of capillaries, improving endurance.
- Allows more oxygen to reach the muscles (greater work load).
- More oxygen is picked up in the lungs.
- Increased lung capacity (lungs are able to take in considerably more air).
- Bowel regularity.
- Increased muscle tone in regards to strength and efficiency.
- Increased flexibility and mobility of muscles, ligaments and joints.
- Efficient removal of lactic acid from the tissues – delaying fatigue.