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Activity vital to good healthcomment (0)

July 22, 2004

By Chuck Sands


Last week’s article highlighted the numerous reasons for becoming or remaining physically active including admonition from the Bible and physical health benefits as well as emotional and spiritual benefits. This week’s article will focus on defining physical activity and exercise, as well as describing some of the health — related components of fitness.

The good news is that there is a difference between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity has been defined as any body movement that burns calories. Exercise is defined as structured, repetitive movement which burns calories, but also has a goal to improve physical fitness. So what does this mean for us? This means that any form of physical activity (remember, body movement and burning calories) can help to reduce the risk of developing numerous diseases.

The kinds of activities that qualify are endless: walking around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little farther away from the office or store, gardening, raking leaves, etc. These activities are good for the heart and lungs, and in some cases, can increase strength and endurance. The point of recognizing that physical activity is simple is that we all need to be more active.

With simple suggestions such as the ones above, we can all add small amounts of activity to our day.

Now that we know what we should be doing, we should examine how long we should be physically active.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that performing a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day is the best way to reduce your risk for disease. Remember, however, that these 60 minutes can be accumulated in smaller bouts of activity throughout the day. So you can take a 15-minute walk around the block in the morning, a 30-minute walk at lunch, and then do 15 minutes of gardening when you return home. You will have easily accumulated your 60 minutes of activity in one day.

Eventually, you may want to move from regular bouts of physical activity to formal, structured exercise, but in the meantime, a simple walk will do the trick.

Regular bouts of physical activity can help develop all of the compo­n-ents of health-related fitness.

The components of health-related fitness include: cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition.

In the coming weeks we will examine each of these components in light of how God wants us to hone and develop the temple He has given us.

In the meantime, remember that millions of Americans do little or no regular physical activity. In fact, some reports suggest as many as 75 percent of Americans are couch potatoes. That’s a lot of people sitting around.

Are you one of these people? If so, get up and start moving. Remember, your body belongs to the Lord.

Editor’s Note — Charles D. “Chuck” Sands is an assistant professor in the department of exercise science and sports medicine at Samford University.

He will receive his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in August.

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