Disclaimer: A medical clearance from a qualified doctor is mandatory before beginning an exercise program. Although exercise has health benefits, it also increases the risk of sudden cardiac death in individuals who have been diagnosed or undiagnosed medical conditions.
” Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being,
while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it ” – Plato
Exercise is the most abused modality, especially in the fitness industry. Viewing it as just a calorie-burning tool is an insult to the array of benefits that exercise can offer. Very little is known about the physiological effects of exercise, and its use as an alternative to modern medicine, even within the medical fraternity. ‘Exercise is Medicine is a recent advance, where exercise is used as medicine to treat medical disorders, especially lifestyle disorders such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Like any other medicine, exercise has to be prescribed by a qualified Exercise Medicine Specialist.
Exercise as Therapy
Exercise is as effective as modern medicine, if not more, minus the side effects. It can be used as a therapy to treat medical conditions like sarcopenic obesity , where resistance training (lifting weights) improves body composition and reduces the risk of mortality.
Exercise for Prevention
Primary prevention is the prevention of the development of disease before it manifests as signs and symptoms. Exercise reverses the risk factors and lowers the incidence of disease. For example, lower HDL-C (high-density cholesterol) is a risk factor for heart disease. Exercise improves HDL-C levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
From the above, it is very clear that exercise can be used to prevent and treat medical conditions. Even if it doesn’t treat, it doesn’t harm when indulged in the right dose. And what’s better is that it improves the quality of life and helps us live longer.
Sports are an extension of exercise to infuse a competitive spirit into the game, which provides health benefits and brings society together. Programs that promote the sport, such as ‘Football for Health’ by FIFA  in South Africa, address the health of the people and showcase the power of solidarity of sport to improve society.
“Doctor, how many times a day should I exercise to be healthy?” is a very common question posed to me by health and fitness aspirants.
The answer, however, is not that simple.
There are a few basic principles to be considered while administering a prescription for exercise, called the FITT Principle :
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes for 5 days) of moderate-intensity or 100 minutes (20 minutes for 5 days) of vigorous-intensity exercise accumulated over a week to maintain cardiovascular health. However, exercising daily with adequate recovery has additional health benefits.
A moderate-intensity exercise is when a person can maintain a near-normal conversation throughout the exercise without feeling out of breath. However, a normal conversation during a vigorous-intensity exercise is not quite possible.
The exercise duration depends on the intensity of exercise – the lower the intensity, the longer the duration of exercise for the same benefits. For example, a sprint is a high-intensity activity that cannot be sustained for a longer period.
The type of activity depends on the goals of the aspirant. Resistance training (lifting weights) helps in improving body composition (building muscle and lowering fat), while aerobic activities (like running, cycling, etc.) help in improving endurance (stamina) to sustain a longer duration of the exercise. A mix of both is a general recommendation for health.
• A health condition where weight is the normal weight, but the percentage of fat is more.
• The highest governing body for soccer.
Dr Bharath Kumar B.
Founder-Director, Kinesis Sports Clinic