Exercise and Disease Prevention
Over the past century we have become increasingly sedentary due to the technical advancements of today's world. Ironically, while machines and improvements in transportation and communication have made our lives easier, studies show that the decline in our physical activity associated with these advancements plays a large role in the decline of our health.
A Surgeon General's report (Anonymous,1996) addresses the finding that continuous and consistent physical activity is proven to enhance longevity and the quality of life for people of all ages. Furthermore, the report notes that although it has been recognized for years that regular physical activity can lead to substantial health benefits, 60% of American adults are not regularly active, and 25% of the adult population are not active at all. Paffenbarger (1996) states that physical fitness and exercise can reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, some cancers, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, and obesity. Studies also show that exercise can promote psychological well-being and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression (http://www.medgraph.com/aboutexercise.html).
The effects of exercise on health risk factors for a few days or weeks may not strike a person as significant, however, physical inactivity over a long period of time, say twenty years, adds up. For example, walking for one hour a day for five days burns about 2000 calories a week. Over a course of a year, a person performing this level of activity would burn about 96,000 calories (http;//www.ccn.cs.dal.ca/Health/CPRC/exercise.html) The negative effects of physical inactivity do add up and influence our health and our lives. Exercise and physical fitness are crucial to "maintaining health, performance capacity, and overall quality of life". (Haskell, 1996)
Disease Prevention Benefits of Exercise
While physical activity and exercise provide health benefits which positively effect a wide range of factors contributing to the quality of life, there are a few overarching areas of disease or health complications where regular exercise predominately reduces risk or aids in controlling disease.
1. Heart disease
2. Some forms of cancer
3. Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
5. Weakened Immune system
6. Autoimmune disease - Rheumatoid arthritis
Web Links on General Benefits of Exercise:
Exercise and Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America. The American Heart Association has stated that the leading cause of heart disease is physical inactivity. (http://www.columbia.net/drfrist/exercise.html) The Surgeon General's report (Anonymous, 1996) states that "regular physical activity or cardiorespiratory fitness...