The Exercise Enigma

M. Saleemuddin


Humans may be born couch potatoes and may not have been evolved to exercise, yet evidences that suggest the indispensability of exercise for maintaining health and fitness are overwhelming. Research carried over the last few decades have unraveled a plethora of information on exercise and fairly convincing evolutionary explanations of why exercise is vital. Scientists however still continue to strive for the right scientific explanations as to how exercise does what it does.

That physical activity promotes health and well-being is centuries-old wisdom. The benefits of physical activity on human health are readily observable and it is not surprising that these were recognised very early and independently among civilisations in various continents of the world. Yoga that originated in India about 5,000 years ago and Cong Fu gymnastics practised in China starting about 4,000 years back are among the oldest, although records of champions of exercise (Table 1) and organised efforts of improving fitness are also available from the Near East, Greek, Roman and other ancient civilisations.

The World Health Organization defines physical activity as any movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires body to burn calories. Exercise on the other hand is a voluntary physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive and undertaken to sustain or improve health and fitness.

Innumerable epidemiological and experimental studies involving human subjects show that our bodies work better when exercised and evidences that exercise prevents weight gain, boost immunity, maintains normal blood pressure, lowers systemic inflammation and restricts the development of cardiovascular disease as well as several forms of cancers continue to accumulate…read more on NOPR