Sessions of running

The incentive for them would also be that the cost would be less than the usual membership fee. For the school/child centred strategy, a number of methods could be tried. The first and most obvious is education. Children could be talked to about the reasons behind the need to be more active. Enjoyable/fun activities could be organised which children really enjoy. It is worth noting that forcing children to exercise in ways in which they hate will only discourage them from engaging in any activity at all. In schools, teachers could encourage parents to organise some adventurous or challenging activities that children could take part in on weekends. Schools could also organise after school clubs and exercise classes.

In a sense, children are a lot more vulnerable and impressionable than adults. This is both good and bad. For the purposes of encouraging exercise however, although encouraging exercise in the workplace is a good idea, it can be argued that adults are a lot less impressionable than children and it would be more beneficial to focus more on children so that they are better educated and have more of an incentive to exercise from a young age.

Physical activity is only one factor of importance in protection against CHD. There are several other major factors, such as smoking, high blood cholesterol, hypertension and family history. There is some reason to suppose that a lack of exercise may be the most crucial factor, since increasing physical activity patterns tends to have a beneficial effect on the majority of the remaining risk factors. If however a person smokes 20 cigarettes per day, has a high blood cholesterol level because they eat the wrong diet, has a very strong family history of heart disease and has slightly elevated blood pressure, the fact that they may run 60 miles per week offers them no insurance. It could actually make matters worse. Health experts believe that burning more than 3,500 calories a week (the equivalent to 10 half hour sessions of running) can be harmful.

Not only does it put the brain under stress, it weakens the immune system and increases risk of injury (6). Overtraining involves a paradox because many of the beneficial effects known to accompany the adoption of an exercise program are reversed in the individual. Some of the more common symptoms known to accompany overtraining are; increases in resting and exercise heart rate, increases in resting blood pressure, significant increases in mood disturbances, decreased libido, decreased appetite, weight loss and sleep disturbances. The dangers that could occur from over-exercising are not just physical however (7).

For some people, exercise can become compulsive, to a degree which is as physically, psychologically and emotionally destructive as ingesting chemicals. Like other addictions (gambling, work, alcohol), the need to compulsively exercise is informed by a range of motivations. These can include; avoidance, mood manipulation, a desire to control, and as a general method of coping with life. Exercise addiction is rare but may be on the increase as exercise patterns change, particularly as exercise is culturally acceptable, even admired. It is widely believed that exercise addiction is linked to the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which affects approximately 1% of the population (8).

The feeling of having to exercise interferes with all aspects of a person’s lifeIncreasingly, exercise can become the ‘organising principle’ in a persons life at the expense of non exercise activities (relationships, family, work etc). There may be heightening anticipation/preoccupation and an increasing need to create exercise opportunities. This happens despite the diminishing efficiency of the behaviour. The addictive ‘high’ becomes progressively less available and depression, anxiety, social/emotional isolation, and sleep disturbances become symptomatic. The addict will progressively become devious, defensive and secretive in pursuing/increasing exercise opportunities and will rationalise to safeguard what increasingly becomes pathological behaviour (9).

In contrast to encouraging people to exercise for the benefits of their own health, encouraging people to exercise responsibly and not to engage in overtraining is a lot more difficult. For a start, not exercising regularly cannot be easily categorised as pathological behaviour, whereas overtraining (at extremes) can. Furthermore, as the incidence of this condition is not that great, organisations would be reluctant to place emphasis on stopping over-exercising lest it had the effect of confusing individuals who were trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The observation here then, is that health organisations would be trying to encourage people to exercise as well as informing them that it was good for their well-being, whilst at the same time encouraging them not to over-exercise. There is the distinct possibility that this would create confusion.

However, there are measures that could be taken in the right direction. First and foremost, good information about the hazards of exercise (physical and mental) could e made available so that at least people could read for themselves and make their own minds up. Second, gymnasiums could employ as staff, specialised personal trainers who would roam around the gym floor and take a note of how many times a particular person exercised, and how long they exercised for. If the trainer decided that an individual was spending an ‘unreasonable’ amount of time exercising, then they would use their discretion to approach the individual and try and talk them down.

It has to be noted that a stricter policy of placing limits on the amount of time that people can exercise would not prove productive as the individual(s) concerned would simply leave the gym and join a different one. The only way this policy would work, would be if the government passed legislation on the issue and gymnasiums were forced to comply with the new law. For both these approaches however, there is no guarantee of success. This is because adults would consciously make the decision to carry on exercising even if they read that it was bad for their health. If they were restricted by their local gym, then they would simply go for a running session before and/or after their usual gym session.

There is no doubt that exercise is pretty much a necessity for the days and times in which we live. We are surrounded by fast-food chains and restaurants and we have not got a lot of time to set aside for leisure, let alone trying to keep our bodies fit and healthy. On balance, exercise is incredibly beneficial for our health and general well-being. It can help reduce blood pressure levels, reduce overall body weight and obesity, be of benefit to sufferers of diabetes, protect against diseases such as osteoporosis and thinning of the bones, and an overall reduction in coronary heart disease.

In the process of increasing muscle strength, endurance and improving flexibility and general posture, regular exercise is successful in preventing back pain. Psychological well-being is also an added benefit of regular exercise, as is an increased level of self-esteem. In order to encourage a greater number of individuals to exercise more regularly though, the workplace and schools need to be targeted with the aim of providing a better level of health education and competency. Incentives and assistance at work would be beneficial, as would after school clubs and exercise classes for children in schools.

If we focus on the issue of the hazards of exercise, then we can see that there is potential for quite a serious problem in the future. If over-exercising really is some form of addiction, then it stands to reason that solving this problem will not simply be a case of trying to encourage people to stop, but rather a prolonged, sustained effort to outline the risks involved and convince people to cut down. There is the possibility however, that this approach will not prove productive and other more drastic measures may need to be investigated. Whatever approaches are taken, the fact will remain that exercise is a necessary phenomenon and if handled in the right way, is the key to a healthy life.

How long your Muscles can withstand the exercise being done. Agility How quickly and efficiently your body can change direction in the smallest amount of space. Cardiovascular Endurance How long your respiratory systems can go on for. Balance and Co-ordination How well your body works in …

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