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Understanding Exercise

One of the most important aspects of motivating yourself to get moving to understand how exercise benefits your body and your life. Aside from the benefit of burning calories to help you lose weight, exercise can make a vast difference in the condition of your body and your organs, which can make the requirements of everyday life easier and less likely to cause fatigue or pain.

First, consider how regular exercise can benefit heart health. Just getting regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, plus, exercise makes the heart itself stronger, and more efficient. Here's how:

Your heart pumps blood through your vascular system (veins and arteries). Your lungs extract oxygen from air and send it to your blood where it is distributed throughout your entire body. The stronger your heart is, the more easily it pumps more blood throughout your entire body. If your heart is weak, it has to work harder to provide you with fresh blood and oxygen.

To improve the strength of your heart, you need to do aerobic exercise. Since aerobic exercise makes you breathe more heavily than you normally do, it trains your heart to pump blood more efficiently throughout your entire body.

You breathe more heavily during aerobic exercise because your body is moving faster than usual and therefore, using oxygen more rapidly, and in greater amounts. The oxygen is then delivered more deeply in the body.

An activity is considered aerobic if it has the following characteristics: You are required to move your limbs at the same time, you use your larger muscle groups, such as those in your legs, and you perform the activity for at least 20 continuous minutes.

Aerobic activity must also be performed at an intensity level that causes your heart and lungs to work harder than usual and is typically rhythmic and/or repetitive. So, for example, splashing in a pool is not an aerobic activity, but swimming in a multiple-lap race is.
Other ways that your body is improved with exercise include:
Muscle Strength (how much weight your muscle can lift) and muscle endurance (how long a muscle can work) are directly related to your activity level.

Strength training (or, as it is also known, resistance training) is ideal for significantly increasing muscle strength. It can improve many aspects of your life. Consider something as simple as going to the supermarket: Carrying groceries into your apartment is an example of muscle strength and endurance.

When you lift a few heavy bags into your backseat, you are using muscle strength. When you are able to pick up the remaining, less heavy bags and make trips to carry them from your car to your apartment, that's endurance.

Bone health can also be improved with strength training since muscles are attached to bones. Stronger bones can pay off now and in the future -- you are less likely to get injured when your bones are strong and increasing bone strength can help prevent osteoporosis as you age. Good bone health also leads to deeper breathing and improved posture.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, some of the best exercises for bone health include lifting weights, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, and tennis.
Flexibility is the ability to move joints effectively and can be improved with stretching exercises. While stretching does not increase your endurance or strength, it is an important part of reducing injury risk and soreness that results from activity.

If your flexibility is limited, you will find movement more difficult. Exercises that improve your flexibility feature moves that stretch your muscles, tendons, and ligaments such as yoga or Tai Chi.

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