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What If exercise didn’t exist?

If exercise didn’t exist we would all be less intelligent, physical weaker, obese, ill and most likely die younger. Sadly this is the reality for most of the western world’s population.

In some way or form, you will have heard about the importance of exercise or even experienced the effects and benefits of exercise for yourself. This is why many people make New Year’s resolutions to get fitter, stronger and be healthier in general. However there is still no real motivation to exercise even after being exposed to the countless commercials, billboards and life testimonials of the benefits of physical activity. Many people feel they are 'fine' just the way they are and even those who don’t feel that way still view exercise as a chore or to simply partake to improve the physical appearance.

In this article we will be approaching the subject of exercise from a different angle. Rather than examining the numerous benefits of exercising, we shall be looking at the cost of the absence of exercise. What would happen to us if exercise did not exist at all? What happens when we lack physical activity in our lives?

Today’s article will be focusing on what happens to your heart if you do not exercise.

The heart is a MUSCLE that sits between the lungs, behind your ribcage for protection. It is about the same size and shape as your own fist. Blood returning from the body is relatively poor in oxygen. It needs to be full of oxygen before being returned to the body. So the right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs first to pick up oxygen before going to the left side of the heart where it is returned to the body full of oxygen. Oxygen is the number one essential element to life and without the heart pumping oxygen to the cells of the body we would die. It is safe to assume that everyone recognizes the heart as being a key organ to life, and just like any other muscle it needs to be trained in order to function effectively. Therefore, would you agree that it is only logical and right to conclude that we should take best efforts to care four our heart and make sure it is working at its optimum for our everyday activities?

Since the heart is a muscle it can increase and decrease in strength. Without exercise your blood pressure increases because your heart is not properly trained to deal with increasing demands for oxygen, this becomes a risk to the heart. Imagine having an old, rugged, worn out, overused hosepipe and then deciding to pump high pressured water through it. What do you think is likely to happen to the hosepipe when you begin pumping the water? There is a strong change it will burst or leak or become damaged in some shape or form. This is what could potentially happen to our heart when we neglect to exercise.

With a diet increased in saturated fat (Fast food, ready meals, read meat etc.) and lack of exercise combined there is an increase in Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that deposit fats in the artery walls and a decrease in High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol that transports deposited fat away from the arteries. Again, imagine a home owner putting out the trash onto the driveway to be picked up and transported away by the rubbish van. Now what would happen if the rubbish van failed to come for weeks and months and the home owner continued to pile the trash on the driveway? His drive way would become blocked. A similar thing occurs in the arteries when clots/plaques are formed, making it incapable of pumping blood efficiently through certain sections of the heart. That part of the heart degenerates and essentially ‘dies’. This process is what is often referred to as a heart attack (angina). This process can also result in a stroke where blood flow is also restricted to the brain.

The target heart rate zone decreases with age and increases with physical activity. However, it is good to get your heart rate up every day in order to increase the health of your heart and to also lower your cholesterol levels. So what should you do next?

As little as 20-30 minutes of brisk walking, running, cycling or swimming is required to strengthen your heart. Simply put any form of exercise into your routine that increases your heart rate into its target zone which, as stated above, is dependent on age and fitness level. Just 30 minutes a day of physical activity could save you a lifetime of complications and disease. So what is your excuse?

Prince is a Mechanical Engineering Graduate.

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