Family Med-eZine TeamTuesday, 24 Dec 2013, 03:48 pm

Light regular exercise goes a long way in keeping the body and mind fit, as also fight risks of diseases, especially in women

For most of us, the main motivation behind exercising is weight reduction and trying to get into that perfect shape. However, there are a lot more health benefits of physical exercises than just losing weight.

Exercises can be broadly grouped into 4 categories, with each having their own health benefits.

  • Those which help build endurance
  • Those that increase body flexibility
  • Those which help increase strength
  • Those which help restore balance

Performing just one type of exercise may not be the best choice. In order to reap maximum health benefits, consult a physical trainer who will be able to guide on the best possible exercise regimen as per your body needs.

Endurance-building exercises

This class includes aerobics, cardio-activities like brisk walking, swimming, dancing, jogging, biking, tennis, squash and a lot more. Depending on the state of your health, you could choose either low intensity or high intensity exercises.

These help in increasing your heart rate and breathing rate, both of which improve the function of the circulatory system of the body. Doing such activities helps keep your heart and lungs healthy and your skin glowing. Exercising helps reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke and even heart diseases by a great extent. It also boosts the HDL (good cholesterol) levels in the body and controls your blood pressure. Involving in such endurance building activities will help you perform your daily activities without any hindrance.

Exercises increasing strength

This class includes exercises done to strengthen and tone up your muscles. “Weight-training” exercises in women helps boost metabolism and build a strong, toned and sculpted body. The use of weights and dumbbells should always be done under the instruction of a physical trainer.

These exercises also help build bone mass and are important for good bone health. If done regularly and under guidance, they can help prevent osteoporosis in the long run.

Exercises for flexibility

Exercises like yoga, tai chi and other stretching exercises help make the joints and muscles of the body more flexible and increase the range of movement of all parts of the body. It helps prevent stiffness and cramps and enables you to be physically more active even as you age. These exercises involve various breathing techniques, which boost mind function, making you feel relaxed and stress-free and help keep anxiety and depression at bay. They help you increase your overall productivity and quality of life.

Exercises restoring balance

Exercises like tai chi help improve the balance of your body. This is especially important in older women to prevent falls, which could cause bone fractures. Also, as these exercises require memory and concentration, they help women who are at a risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s by improving their cognitive function.

In addition to the above, Kegel exercises are especially important in women who suffer from urinary incontinence. These exercises help strengthen the muscles which make up the pelvic floor, that is the muscles supporting the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. These muscles tend to weaken down in women due to pregnancy, childbirth, surgery and aging.

Exercises help fight cancer too!

Exercises have shown to reduce the risk of various cancers in women. As exercise helps reduce the oestrogen levels in the body, it can guard you against breast cancer. Even in postmenopausal women, where oestrogen is being produced by fat cells, regular moderate physical activity to check weight can help in a big way to decrease the risk of cancer. Regular physical activity also helps overcome insulin resistance, boosts immune function and lowers inflammatory changes in the body, all which are risk factors for various cancers.

However, it is important that these exercises be performed under the guidance of a physical trainer, who can assess your health status and guide you with the exercises. You also need to be aware of “warming up” before performing any kind of exercises.