Use It Or Lose It

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T  h  i  n  k    hard,  work  soft




    Exercise is not by any means the only key to healthy living.   Smoking, for example, may exercise the lungs but it also is known to cause heart problems, respiratory problems, and cancer.   Deep breathing also exercises the lungs, but when the air we breathe is free of contaminants, the detrimental effects are obviously not so severe.   On the contrary, there are many very real benefits that come as a direct result of deep breathing, like oxygenation of tissues and lymph movement to name just two.   So, clearly, we are speaking about the right kind of exercise when we speak of exercise being healthy.

    You have probably heard two different types of exercise mentioned in advertisements for exercise equipment.   One is aerobic exercise, which refers to 'air' or breathing to indicate that it is a form of exercise that requires abundant oxygen.   Aerobic exercise stimulates the heart to pump faster in an effort to make up the oxygen deficiency caused by the vigorous action of muscles, either large muscles like those in the legs, or a combination of many muscles.   Because of this, aerobic exercise should be undertaken with a doctor's supervision.   Walking, cycling and swimming are examples of aerobic exercises.   These exercises may strengthen the heart and improve circulation, but without the damaging effects caused by impacts or sudden stopping, like would be seen in hard-court tennis, karate or running.

    The second class of exercise, muscle toning, is done with the intent of strengthening individual muscles, in contrast with aerobic exercise, which strengthens the whole cardiovascular system as well as a number of muscles.   When only a few smaller muscles are exercised, the oxygen demand is not great enough to stimulate a large increase in heart rate.

    There is a third variety of exercise, called stretching.   As aerobic exercises 'stretch' the body's cardiovascular system and muscle toning 'stretches' the capabilities of individual muscles, stretching is a way of exercising joints and lengthening muscles to facilitate maintenance of flexibility.   As with other exercises and perhaps even more so, care must be taken that in stretching we don't overstretch and injure ourselves.   But, on the other hand, you may be surprised at the body's seemingly unlimited possibilities when we work at a consistent and goal-oriented stretching regimen.   This third kind of exercise is often overlooked but is in many ways more beneficial than the other two combined.   More flexibility means more functionality.   We can all do just a bit more.   And as the word exercise implies, do it regularly!

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