Importance of Fitness
There is a lot of awareness growing that we need to be fit. Staying healthy and keeping fit helps to keep away a lot of diseases and keep the immune system strong. Fitness is being equated to intense exercise. Thus we see a lot of people trying to take up sports, do weight training or practice for different marathon events or cycling events. In spite of so much being spoken about in terms of fitness, there are a larger and larger number of people who are growing more fat and more unhealthy. It has also been seen, that exercising does not really prevent a lot of ailments. So it is important to understand what is fitness.
What is Fitness?
Fitness is not about slim bodies, flat tummies, muscles or six pack abs. Fitness is about remaining physically fit throughout life to be able to function well without any assistance even in old age. Health is also fitness. Apart from the physical condition, do we remain healthy and without diseases? This is also an essential component of fitness and health. So health and fitness is not intense exercising at all. It is regular and adequate physical movement and activities in moderation or (optimal proportion) combined with an appropriate lifestyle.
Impact of Exercise
There have been enough studies to show that exercise helps. However, there are more than enough examples to show that people who do not exercise formally are more healthy and fit than people who exercise. By formal exercise we mean going to a gym or playing a sport or jogging three to four times a week; from thirty minutes to an hour or so in a day. There are many benefits of exercise but there are also many drawbacks which we should be aware of:
- Sudden intense exercise causes problems of the musculo-skeletal system in the long run. Sitting at a desk whole day and then suddenly doing some exercise with intensity in the morning or evening actually damages the body more. People who over strain have been found to get more problems related to the joints including arthritis, back problems and severe inflammations.
- Our lifestyles no longer support any form of intense physical activity due to a variety of reasons.
- Our reasons to exercise in most cases are wrong. Whether we admit it or not; it is less about health and more about looking good, feeling good or looking more sexually attractive. Many times, it is just an unhealthy obsession or a way to socialize.
- We also exercise or push ourselves when we are fatigued or stressed.
- This method of exercising is also proving to be fatal in many cases. There are young persons who are dying due to exercise. Let us see how this happens.
How Can Exercise Kill You?
There is a misconception that when you are having stress or you are tired or mentally exhausted, you should exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you are very stressed, the body is also physically stressed from within. The entire human mechanism is geared to responding to stress. Stress chemicals and hormones get released which tax the body and the internal organs actually get ‘tired’.
In this scenario, if we also tax ourselves physically, there is double stress. Instead of recovering, the body gets double exhausted. There have been instances of people dying suddenly when they are stressed at work and also do a lot of physical activity, sports, running, weight training. The body gets so fatigued, it cannot ‘wake up’ again when you sleep.
Solution is Moderation
There has been enough work done in this area to tell us that moderation is the key. Rather than exercising once a day, it is better to keep moving through the day. Walking for fifteen minutes four to five times a day is much more beneficial than an intense bout of jogging, squash or weight training once a day.
Doing all your housework with joy has to be found to be the best exercise. Through the day you are bending, stretching, walking, twisting and also get a good night’s sleep. The other important thing to remember is that walking is the best exercise. Unless you are in competitive sports there is no need to do anything intense.
A daily brisk walk with adequate activity through the day and healthy eating is more beneficial than formal exercising. Also the advantage of walking is that we do not need to take time out. One can walk for a few minutes whenever you get the time.
The Best Option
The best solution to remaining healthy and become fit as per your natural body type is to practice asanas. The physical step of Yoga is asanas. They are holistic in nature and work at the cellular level. They are anaerobic, aerobic, cardiovascular and weight bearing; all at the same time. At the same time, it is so gentle that rather than causing friction and degeneration, it actually protects and rejuvenates muscles and joints. After a genuine yoga asana practice, your heart rate is actually lower and there is a feeling of calmness and energy; not tiredness caused by exercising.