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Physical exercise is any bodily activity that
enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall
health and wellness. It is performed for various
reasons. These include strengthening muscles and
the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills,
weight loss or maintenance and for enjoyment.
Types of exercise
Physical exercises are generally grouped into three
types, depending on the overall effect they have on
the human body:
Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, improve
the range of motion of muscles and joints.
Aerobic exercises, such as cycling, swimming,
walking, skipping rope, rowing, running, hiking or
playing tennis, focus on increasing cardiovascular
Anaerobic exercises, such as weight training,
functional training, eccentric training or sprinting,
increase short-term muscle strength.
Categories of physical exercise
Sometimes the terms 'dynamic' and 'static' are
used. 'Dynamic' exercises such as steady running,
tend to produce a lowering of the diastolic blood
pressure during exercise, due to the improved
blood flow. Conversely, static exercise (such as
weight-lifting) can cause the systolic pressure to
rise significantly (during the exercise).
Categories of general physical skills
Physical exercise is used to improve physical skills.
Physical skills fall into the following general
categories, per CrossFit:
Physical exercise is important for maintaining
physical fitness and can contribute positively to
maintaining a healthy weight, building and
maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength,
and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-
being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening
the immune system.
Exercise also reduces levels of cortisol. Cortisol is
a stress hormone that builds fat in the abdominal
region, making weight loss difficult. Cortisol
causes many health problems, both physical and
Frequent and regular aerobic exercise has been
shown to help prevent or treat serious and life-
threatening chronic conditions such as high blood
pressure, obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes,
insomnia, and depression.
There is a direct relation between physical inactivity
and cardiovascular mortality, and physical inactivity is
an independent risk factor for the development of
coronary artery disease.
Although there have been hundreds of studies on
exercise and the immune system, there is little direct
evidence on its connection to illness. Epidemiological
evidence suggests that moderate exercise has a
beneficial effect on the human immune system while
extreme exercise impairs it
physical activity has been shown to be
neuroprotective in many neurodegenerative and
There are several possibilities for why exercise is
beneficial for the brain:
increasing the blood and oxygen flow to the brain
increasing growth factors that help create new
nerve cells and promote synaptic plasticity
increasing chemicals in the brain that help
cognition, such as dopamine, glutamate,
norepinephrine and serotonin
exercise generally improves sleep for most people,
and helps sleep disorders such as insomnia. The
optimum time to exercise may be 4 to 8 hours
before bedtime, though exercise at any time of day
is beneficial, with the possible exception of heavy
exercise taken shortly before bedtime.
That excessive exercise can cause immediate
death. It is also possible to die from a heart attack
or similar affliction if overly intense exercise is
performed by someone who is not at an
appropriate level of fitness for that particular
activity or has an undiagnosed rare condition like
That weightlifting makes you short or stops
growth. One confirmed danger is that heavy weight
training in adolescents (ages 11–16) can damage
the epiphyseal plate of long bones and can stunt
joints. It is still commonly suggested that
adolescents refrain from any kind of "strenuous"
One misconception is that muscle tissue will turn
into fat tissue once a person stops exercising. This
is not literally true—fat tissue and muscle tissue
are fundamentally different—but the common
expression that "muscle will turn to fat" is truthful
in the sense that catabolism of muscle fibers for
energy can result in excess glucose being stored as
Exercise is a stressor and the stresses of exercise
have a catabolic effect on the body—contractile
proteins within muscles are consumed for energy,
carbohydrates and fats are similarly consumed and
connective tissues are stressed and can form
micro-tears. However, given adequate nutrition
and sufficient rest to avoid overtraining, the body's
reaction to this stimulus is to adapt and replete
tissues at a higher level than that existing before
exercising. The results are all the training effects
of regular exercise: increased muscular strength,
endurance, bone density, and connective tissue
Too much exercise can be harmful. Without
proper rest, the chance of stroke or other
circulation problems increases, and muscle tissue
may develop slowly. Extremely intense, long-term
cardiovascular exercise, as can be seen in athletes
who train for multiple marathons, has been
associated with scarring of the heart and heart
Inappropriate exercise can do more harm than
good, with the definition of "inappropriate"
varying according to the individual. For many
activities, especially running and cycling, there are
significant injuries that occur with poorly
regimented exercise schedules. Injuries from
accidents also remain a major concern, whereas
the effects of increased exposure to air pollution
seem only a minor concern.
In extreme instances, over-exercising induces
serious performance loss. Unaccustomed
overexertion of muscles leads to rhabdomyolysis
(damage to muscle) most often seen in new army
Another danger is overtraining in which
the intensity or volume of training exceeds the
body's capacity to recover between bouts.
Stopping excessive exercise suddenly can also
create a change in mood. Feelings of depression
and agitation can occur when withdrawal from the
natural endorphins produced by exercise occurs.
Exercise should be controlled by each body's