Aerobic Exercise Need

Aerobic Exercise Need: Overview

Few people disagree that we all need regular exercise, but the realities of busy modern lifestyles mean that many of us don't exercise nearly enough – or even at all.  Not exercising enough has implications for both our mental and physical health.

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Too much is taken for granted in life, but our health is definitely one of the things that should not be.  Without exercise, our fitness and endurance levels remain low.  Our muscles lose their tone, and something as simple as climbing a flight of stairs stresses the heart and makes us short of breath.

Causes and Development

It only takes a couple of weeks from when you stop exercising to lose a significant amount of the strength and stamina that exercise produces.  From there the decline continues.

A study published in June, 2015 of men who had been training for 6 weeks found that being immobilized for 2 weeks caused a roughly 11% reduction in muscle strength and work capacity.  [Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp. 552-560]

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of not getting enough exercise include:

  • being overweight / weight gain
  • consequences of being overweight

    • increased risk of increased blood pressure
    • increased risk of heart disease and stroke
    • increased risk of type 2 diabetes
    • increased difficulty exercising due to increased stress on joints – a vicious circle
  • increased heart rate
  • weak physical strength
  • bone loss / reduced bone density (lack of weight-bearing exercise plays a role in osteoporosis)
  • low self-esteem
  • depression
  • high cholesterol
  • increased risk of arthritis

Moving our bodies requires energy that comes from the food we eat.  When we are not active, we use less energy – in other words, we burn fewer calories.  It is surprisingly easy for inactive individuals to consume more calories than they burn.  Consuming just 500 calories a day more than we burn will lead to weight gain of roughly a pound a week, or 4 pounds (2kg) a month, or 50 pounds (23kg) a year.

Treatment and Prevention

Resuming exercise after years of inactivity can be a difficult undertaking, especially for someone who is overweight or has a medical condition.  But getting back into shape after losing our core fitness is not as difficult as one might think.  Start slowly, with swimming or just a few minutes of walking each day.  From there, as stamina improves, expand the types and duration of exercise activities.

Vigorous exercise causes your pituitary gland to release endorphins, which in turn produce a feeling of euphoria and a general state of well-being.  It also reduces anxiety and helps us cope with stress.

Regular exercise promotes sound sleep; it also increases our energy levels and makes us feel more alert during the day, due to greater blood flow through the brain.  This makes everyday activities – and exercise – easier.  Men who exercise have better erectile and sexual function than men who do not.

Cardiovascular efficiency is increased, meaning that the heart and lungs are working better.

Complications

The major muscle groups respond to the demands put on them, and need to be used regularly in order to strengthen and maintain their strength.  As we age, failing to exercise leads to a losing battle against muscle atrophy (muscle wasting), bone density loss / brittle bones / osteoporosis, and serious disease.

Lack of exercise can also affect mental health, with a diminished sense of well-being, lower self-esteem due to physical appearance, social isolation due to weight gain, and poor eating habits.

Conditions that suggest Aerobic Exercise Need:

Habits

Lab Values

Metabolic

Insomnia

People often sleep more easily and soundly once an exercise program is started.

Gestational Diabetes Tendency

Exercising during pregnancy stimulates glucose transport and can help control gestational diabetes without the use of insulin.  Moderate workouts appear safe for most females with gestational diabetes.  [The Physician and Sports Medicine, March, 1996;24(3): pp.54-66]

Musculo-Skeletal

Osteoporosis - Osteopenia

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of suffering from osteoporosis later in life.  Exercise strengthens bones – inactivity encourages the body not to rebuild unused resources.

Nutrients

Vitamin E Requirement

One study showed that people with a low physical activity level had a lower reserve of vitamin E than those more highly active.  Vitamin E concentration was inversely related to abdominal circumference.  The inverse relationship between tocopherol levels and levels of body fat may explain why this is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, due to vitamin E's role as an antioxidant and protective agent in cardiovascular disease.  [Journal of Internal Medicine, 1993;234: pp.53-60]

Reproductive

Endometriosis

Endometriosis has been linked to a lack of physical activity.

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Risk factors for Aerobic Exercise Need:

Lifestyle

Counter-indicators
Counter-indicators

Recommendations for Aerobic Exercise Need:

Habits

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Weak or unproven link: may suggest
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Strong or generally accepted link:
often suggests
Definite or direct link: strongly suggests; increases risk of
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strongly suggests; increases risk of
Strong counter-indication: often decreases risk of
Strong counter-indication:
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Very useful: is highly recommended for
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