Physical exercise

QUESTION: positive effects of physical exercise on residential students in Oxbridge


Annually, quoted from American heart association in adjutant's log that 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke,and nearly one third of thesestrokes are recurrent.Almost an half of men and women underthe age of 70 years old who have stroke die within 7-8 years. Althoughthe stroke death rate fell 12% from 1990 to 2000, the actualnumber of stroke deaths increased by 9.9%. This represents alevelling off of prior declines.Moreover, the incidence ofstroke is likely to continue to increase because of a highpopulation of elderly Americans; a growing rate of diabetes,and obesity among the general population,and a greater prevalence of heart failure patients.

As we enter the 21st century, one of the greatest accomplishments to be celebrated is the continuous pursuit of fitness since the beginning of man's existence. Throughout prehistoric time, man's quest for fitness has been driven by a desire to survive through hunting. Today, although there are no longer subsistence requirements, fitness continues to remain paramount to health and well-being for humans. This review will highlight historical events and influential individuals who have shaped the history of fitness beginning with primitive man up to the foundation of the modern fitness movement, quoted byLance C. Dalleck

According to Lance C. Dalleck, in India, individual pursuit of fitness was discouraged as the religious beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism emphasized spirituality and tended to neglect development of the body. Consequently, the importance of fitness within society in general was relatively low. However, an exercise program similar to Chinese Cong Fu gymnastics developed, while still conforming to religious beliefs, known as Yoga.

From Len kravitz, in underdog personal fitness, fitness in the United States during the National Period was influenced by European cultures. Immigrants brought many aspects of their heritage to the United States, including German and Swedish gymnastics. Constant threats to independence and nationalism from foreign invasion were dynamics occurrence in Europe and not the United States. German and Swedish gymnastic programs failed to attain the same levels of popularity as in Europe.

However, early leaders in the United States were conscious of the need for exercise and fitness. Benjamin Franklin recommended regular physical activity, including running, swimming, and basic forms of resistance training for health purposes. President Thomas Jefferson acknowledged the necessity for fitness, although maybe to a somewhat extreme measure: as quoted by Len kravitz “Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise and the weather shall be little regarded. If the body is feeble, definitely the mind will not be strong”.

Early Physical Education in the United States within Europe, schools had been an important medium for spreading the need for fitness to society through physical education programs. Schools concentrated on teaching traditional subjects including reading, and writing. Physical health education remained missing from the public education system for the better part of the 19th century. Despite the relative lack of interest in fitness existing during this era, J.C. Warren and Catherine Beecher made contributions to the future of fitness in America.

From the history of fitness Dr. J.C. Warren quoted that a medical professor at Harvard University, was a major advocate of physical activity. Warren's medical background gave him a clear understanding of the necessity for regular exercise, with his recommendations including exercises such as gymnastics and calisthenics. As time goes on Warren began devising exercises for females. Catherine Beecher also contributed by devising fitness programs to meet the needs of women. Among her, many different programs were a system of calisthenics performed to music. Though not formally recognized in name, Beecher's programs of the mid-19th century bear remarked similarities to modern-day aerobics.


Referring to Wikipedia there are three basic types of physical exercise which are;

* Flexibility exercise

* Aerobic exercise

* Anaerobic exercise


This is a type of physical exercise in which some specified skeletal muscles are deliberately elongated to its maximum length. This type of exercise is the one that causes people to become slimmer and it improves the muscles elasticity. Furthermore, stretching also occurs instinctually after waking from sleep, after long periods of inactivity, or after exiting confined spaces. And it is known has stretching exercise

Study done by LaRoche and Connolly was designed to see whether stretching reduces frequency of sports-related injuries and increases individual performance. The study, conducted over a four-week period, involved male participants between the ages of eighteen (18) and sixty (60) who were not actively training before. Participants were randomly assigned to three different stretching groups which included ballistic, and control groups.

To see what and how stretching method worked best, participants first needed to experiencedelayed onset muscle soreness. This was done by having individuals using hamstring curl machine, doing three sets of fifteen repetitions with a one minute break between. Stretching was done before and after exercise, only three days a week for a month period.

The results of the study found out that both ballistic and static stretching brought up a large increase in individual range of motion. This is thought to be from an increase in stretch as opposed to actual muscle elongation. The study also found that ballistic stretching seemed to have the same effects as static stretching without any negative effects. Although there was an increased range of motion caused by stretching, there was no change in muscle soreness (LaRoche and Connolly 1000-1007).

There was a research by weerapong et al to determine the effects of stretching on the body. In researches, ninety-nine peer-reviewed and scholarly sources to compile data's. All their sources naturally came from PubMed, SPORT Discuss, and ProQuest 5000 International. The criteria for researches looked for average healthy participants where there was no bias placed on age, gender or physical abilities. All claims were considered in the researches and were picked and if they researched the long and short-term effects of stretching, while suggesting what effects stretching had on events such as injury occurrence, and muscle soreness.

Results of the study found out that it is very common in literature to suggest stretching as a possible mechanism to prevent the occurrence of injury and muscle soreness. However, very common, does not specifically explain how stretching affects muscle properties on individual performance. Their researches suggests that common stretching methods, like static and ballistic stretches, decreases muscle performance and have inconclusive evidence to support the idea of injury reduction. A large number of their sources claim flexibility does not reduce incidence of injury, and increasing range of motion is wisely not needed. Their conclusion on their researches states that more research is needed to find the best stretching technique that improves the performance of muscles and reduce risk of injury.


During aerobic activity, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. You'll notice your body's responses quickly.

You will breathe faster and more deeply than normal. This expands the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and other parts of the body and then back to your lungs. Your small blood vessels (capillaries) will expand to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry out waste products, such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Your body will even release natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being.


According to jen Mueller while “aerobic” means “with oxygen,” anaerobic means “without air" or “without oxygen”. Anaerobic exercise is high-intensity activity, short lasting where your body demand for oxygen that exceeds the oxygen supply available. Anaerobic exercise relies on energy supplies that arein the muscles, unlike aerobic exercise, is not dependent on oxygen from the air. Examples of anaerobic exercise include:heavy weight-lifting, all types of sprints like running, biking, jogging etc. skipping, hill climbing, interval training, isometrics, and rapid burst of hard exercise in general.

Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise uses your muscles at a high concentration for a short period of time. As a result of that, it can help to:

* Develop stronger muscles

* Improve your VO2 max (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus improve your cardio-respiratory fitness

* Increase your capacity to withstand the build up of waste substances (such as lactic acid) and remove them from the body. Therefore your endurance and ability to fight fatigue will improve.

Furthermore, from Wikipedia anaerobic exercise burns lower calories than does aerobic exercise and may be somewhat less beneficial for fitness. However, it is much better at building strength and muscle and still benefits the heart and lungs. In the long run, increased muscle mass helps a person become leaner and manage his weight, because muscle uses large number of calories.

How Anaerobic Exercise Works

According to Nicole Nichols from cutting edge fitness program it was quoted that when you begin to work out vigorously, there is a temporary shortage of oxygen being delivered to the working muscles. Lactic acid is a product of producing energy anaerobically. When lactic acid accumulates at a particular high level in the blood, it causes muscular fatigue. This is exactly why anaerobic exercises cannot last very long.

But with training, the body gradually becomes better equipped to handle lactic acid. Several changes occur that result in decreased production of lactic acid and increased removal of the lactic acid from the bloodstream. The body also produces “buffers” that delay fatigue during anaerobic exercise. Studies have shown that with anaerobic training, the muscle's buffering capacity is increased by 12% to 50%. With the increase in buffering capacity, more lactic acid could accumulate during high intensity exercise without causing any fatigue.

How to Add Anaerobic Training to Your Program

Anaerobic interval training is primarily reserved for those who are very fit and desire to increase speed, lactate threshold, and overall aerobic power. A training like that usually results in greater lactic acid concentrations in exercising muscles and it was accompanied by a greater muscular discomfort. This is a very intense type of training and should not be attempted by an exerciser who is a beginner. Before you train anaerobically, always try to do a considerable aerobic warm up first, and stretch your body and muscles before and after vigorous activity.


While in the not so distant past physical exercise was commended yet mostly left to the segment of the population that would either serve in the armed forces or have physically demanding jobs.

Societal changes, such as an ageing populace that has longer and healthier lives than their predecessors, have brought working out and overall fitness through exercise into the forefront of most everyone's mind. In many ways, the popularity of exercise locations and gear has given way to fads, bigger and more expensive equipment, and entire clothing lines that capitalize on the appeal to a fit and trim exercise devotee. According to scribd

Those who take their exercise regimens seriously can now be seen at fitness centres throughout the nation working out before and after work, during lunch breaks, and on the weekends. A food industry has sprung up geared toward the needs of athletes; there are now specially formulated bars and shakes that will help to increase muscle strength and endurance, increase weight loss, and increase fat burn. At the same time, however, more and more people are being diagnosed with clinical obesity, in some cases even morbid obesity which carries a host of health problems along with it.

This seeming paradox is easily explained with the sedentary lifestyle that is encouraged in a country of plenty where most work is being performed by machines that are being controlled remotely by computers and their operators. Fast food –laden with calories –relieves the average American from cooking a nutritious meal when getting home late and pre-packaged snacks that are little more than fat, sugar and salt sprinkled on carbohydrates.

To counteract this alarming rate of obesity among a population that knows the value of exercise and the health risks of its sedentary lifestyle, diet fads are sought out to quickly counteract the ravages of unwise living. Low carb dieting has become the latest craze which took the country by storm and which – at least in the short term – affected many people's insulin levels and thus helped them to lose weight. While each and every diet touts the importance of a combination of a proper diet with a form of healthy exercise, many a newbie does not know exactly where to start.

According to discovery guide, for those who are ready to begin their very own exercise regimen, the first visit to a gym might be intimidating. Buff musclemen and seeming torture devices do very little to help you understand where to start. Yet it is not as daunting as it may seem! Considering that there are two forms of exercise –anaerobic and aerobic –the proper combination of the two is the trick that will get your metabolism and fitness going. Anaerobic exercises focus on muscle strength and muscle building while aerobic workouts are targeted toward fat loss. When done together, they make for an unbeatable duo.

The effect of physical exercise on cognitive performance

Early studies compared groups of people who exercised to groups of people who did not exercise much. Results showed that people who exercised usually had better performance in a range of cognitive tasks compared to non-exercisers.

Laurin and colleagues (2001) even suggested that moderate and high levels of physical activity were associated with lower risk for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

The problem with these studies is that the exercisers and the non-exercisers may differ on other factors than just exercise. The advantage that exerciser show may not come from exercising but from other factors such as more resources, better brain health to start with, better diet, etc.

The solution to this problem is to randomly assigned people to either an aerobic training group or a control group.

In 2003, Colcombe and Kramer analyzed the results of 18 scientific studies published between 2000 and 2001 that were conducted in the way described above.

The results of this meta-analysis clearly showed that fitness training increases cognitive performance in healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 80.

Another meta-analysis published in 2004 by Heyn and colleagues shows similar beneficial effects of fitness training on people over 65 years old who had cognitive impairment or dementia.

What is the effect of fitness training on the brain itself?

Research with animals has shown that in mice, increased aerobic fitness (running) can increase the number of new cells formed in the hippocampus (the hippocampus is crucial for learning and memory). Increased exercise also has a beneficial effect on mice's vascular system.

Only one study has used brain imaging to look at the effect of fitness on the human brain. In 2006, Colcombe and colleagues randomly assigned 59 older adults to either a cardiovascular exercise group, or a no aerobic exercise control group (stretching and toning exercise). Participants exercised 3h per week for 6 months. Colcombe et al. scanned the participants' brains before and after the training period.

After 6 months, the brain volume of the aerobic exercising group increased in several areas compared to the other group. Volume increase occurred principally in frontal and temporal areas of the brain involved in executive control and memory processes. The authors do not know what underlying cellular changes might have caused these volume changes. However they suspect, based on animal research, that volume changes may be due to an increased number of blood vessels and an increased number of connections between neurons.

How does physical exercise compare to mental exercise?

Very few studies have tried to compare the effect of physical exercise and mental exercise on cognitive performance.

When looking at each domain of research one notices the following differences:

- The effects of cognitive or mental exercise on performance seem to be very task specific, that is trained tasks benefit from training but the benefits do not transfer very well to tasks in which one was not trained.

- The effects of physical exercise on performance seem broader. However they do not generalize to all tasks. They benefit mostly tasks that involve executive-control components (that is, tasks that require planning, working memory, multitasking, resistance to distraction).

To my knowledge only one study tried to directly compare cognitive and fitness training:

Fabre and colleagues, in 1999, randomly assigned subjects to 4 groups: an aerobic training group (walking or running for 2 h per week for 2 months), a memory training group (one 90 min session a week for 2 months), a combined aerobic and mental training group, or a control group (no training).

Results showed that compared to the control group, the memory performance of all 3 groups increased. The combined group showed greater increase than the other 2 training groups.

This suggests that the effects of cognitive and fitness training may be additive…However this study involved only 8 participants per group! More research is clearly needed before anything can be safely concluded.

In the meantime let's play it safe and combine fitness and cognitive training for better brain health…!


* Anaerobic training






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