Movement is medicine

Have you ever heard the expression “use it or lose it”? It’s true! If you don’t use your body, you will surely lose it. Inactivity is as much of a health risk as smoking!

Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health or wellness.

It is performed for various reasons. These include strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance and for enjoyment.

“HEALTH” is not merely an absence of diseases, but also a state of social, physical and mental well being.

“FITNESS” is an ability of an individual to carry out his / her daily work without undue fatigue, and also left with energy for leisure activities.

Benefit of exercising:

  • Exercise improves your mood by keeping you cheerful. Working out releases hormones known as endorphins which can help prevent depression.
  • Exercise combats chronic diseases. Regular physical activity can help you prevent type 2 diabetes, manage high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer among many other health issues.
  • Exercise helps you manage your weight. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. It helps to keep your weight under control.
  • Exercise boosts your energy level. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.
  • Exercise promotes better sleep.
  • Exercise can be — fun!

Types of exercise


Aerobic exercise:


Aerobic means “with oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen in the body’s metabolic or energy-generating process.

Aerobic can also be referred to as endurance, in simple terms stamina. It allows the individual to work for longer period at low to moderate intensity. It allows heart and lungs to work efficiently and supply oxygen rich blood to muscles.

Running and swimming are the most popular forms of aerobic exercise. Equipments such as treadmill, cross trainer, cycles, rowing machines can also be used to challenge the body and further improve stamina.

Strength training:


Strength training is the use of resistance to build the strength, endurance (tone), and size of skeletal muscles.

Strength could be defined as application of force against any resistance.

There are many methods to strength training. The most common ones are use of own body weight (push ups, pull ups, free squats etc), resistance bands, dumbbells and barbells.

The benefits of weight training include greater muscular strength, improved muscle tone, increased endurance, enhanced bone density and also long term fat loss. Many people take up weight training to improve their aesthetic appearance.



It refers to range of motion of joints and elasticity of muscles that crosses those joints.

Flexibility can be increased to a certain degree by exercise, with stretching a common exercise component to maintain or improve flexibility. Quality of life is enhanced by improving and maintaining a good range of motion in the joints. Loss of flexibility can be a predisposing factor for physical issues such as pain syndromes or balance disorders.

Gender, age, and genetics are important for your range of motion. Exercise including stretching often helps you be more flexible.

Types of stretches:

Dynamic: It involves moving the muscles with in stretchable limits (range of motion) without holding at any point of time. It includes free movements like neck movements, shoulder rotations, trunk twist, pendular swings of arms and legs to name a few. It is a main component of warm up before starting the main workout.

Static:  It involves taking the muscle to a point of tension and holding the stretch for a period of 10 – 30 seconds.  It is done as a part of cool down which helps the muscle to relax and bring down the heart rate after a strenuous session of exercise.

Ballistic: It involves fast “bouncing and jerky” movements where bounce is performed at the end range of movement. Ballistic stretching should only be used by athletes who know their own limitations and with supervision by their trainer. It is usually performed only by gymnasts. It can injure vital muscles and nerves with the sharp jerking movements. Standing toes touch and any stretch where muscle is taken beyond the range of motion can be defined as ballistic.

Exercise alone provides psychological and physical benefits. And remember, “Movement (exercising) is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”

Y. Ramakrishna

The author is a Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist

Image: Flickr/creativecommons lululemon athletica

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