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Are You Challenged By A Health Issue(s)?

There is help beyond pills and


potions. It’s a panacea called ‘Exercise’

Many busy professionals are at risks for chronic diseases, given their unbalanced
lifestyle and hectic work schedules. For those who have, unfortunately, suffer from a
chronic disease or health symptoms, the good news is that there is a great hope of
getting well. The secret is - exercise.
In the past, exercise had always been tagged as a ‘villain’ and often discouraged for
those individuals who with health challenges. Now it is often considered as a ‘hero’.
Wealth of research in recent years have shown that exercise can not only reduce the
risk for several chronic diseases and conditions but also help one to get well from
them and prevent a secondary disease. In addition it can help one to improve the
quality of life by increasing energy, daily functioning, strength, balance and
coordination, as well as relieve pain for the individuals with health challenges.
Here are some of the benefits of exercise for different health conditions:
Heart Disease.
Exercise plays an important role in both the prevention and rehabilitation of many
forms of heart disease. Exercise can have a positive influence on many of the
factors that increase the risk for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high
cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.
Specific benefits of exercise for people with coronary artery disease (CAD), include:
 Stronger heart muscle
 Fewer incidences of angina
 Reduced plaque build-up inside the arteries
 Better weight and blood pressure control
High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in cells throughout your body. Although it
tends to get a bad rap, cholesterol is actually essential for life. It only contributes to
heart disease when you have too much of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) or too little of the
"good" cholesterol (HDL).
Regular aerobic exercise will help to reverse this by significantly reduce triglycerides
and stimulate several metabolic enzyme systems in the muscles and liver to convert
some of the LDL cholesterol to a more favourable HDL cholesterol. And when
exercise is combined with a healthy, low-fat diet, these changes can be significant.
Diabetes
Diabetes is a disorder of the body's insulin production and usage, and it is a major risk
factor for coronary artery disease. The incidence of type 2 diabetes (adult onset
diabetes) is on the rise, which is largely attributed to the rise in obesity.
Exercise is an excellent way to prevent, control and treat diabetes because it improves
the sensitivity of the body's cells to insulin and therefore, improves blood glucose
control, which is also good for weight management as well as controlling many other
cardiovascular risk factors.
Obesity
Obesity is harmful and excessive weight can provoke serious disorders and obese
people have from double to triple the probability of dying prematurely, compared to
people with normal weight. An obese person runs the risk of a range of diseases (e.g.
diabetes, respiratory insufficiency, breathing difficulties, cardiovascular diseases,
hypertension, arthritis, cancer) that are linked to obesity and are more probable when
the obesity level is higher.

Recent research has demonstrated that a 10% initial weight loss is enough to reduce
these risks greatly. It is an easy goal to reach and to maintain and in time it is a
sufficient factor to decrease mortality caused by obesity by 20%, decrease by 40%
mortality linked to the cancer risk, and decrease by 30% mortality linked to diabetes.

Crash diets or completely eliminating fat from your diet is not the solution, at least not
for long term. The only correct way is to eat a sensible diet, and follow an
exercise routine of optimum intensity and sufficient frequency. The combination
of properly designed strength training (not a bodybuilding routine that many
gym followers are following) and aerobic exercises is far more effective and
easier to keep the weight off than using either approach alone.
High Blood Pressure
This elevated pressure, medically known as hypertension, has been referred to as the
''silent killer'' because it is not recognized by a given set of symptoms or subjective
feelings. As such, hypertension may be even greater as many individuals choose not
to have regular physical exams and/or blood pressure checks.
Regular exercise has also been shown to be effective in reducing the relative risk of
developing hypertension by 20 to 30 percent. It has been shown to reduce blood
pressure by increasing the efficiency of the circulatory system. The blood pressure
lowers because the heart muscle pumps better, the blood vessels are more relaxed, the
heart requires less oxygen to work, and the kidneys function better.
On the other hand, a low cardio-respiratory fitness in middle age is associated with a
50 percent greater risk of developing hypertension.
Stroke
A stroke, or a cerebral vascular accident, occurs when not enough blood is reaching
part of the brain causing impairment of movement, balance, endurance, sensory
awareness, vision, communication, judgment, learning and/or emotions.
A high intensity workout developed to meet the specific needs of the individual is a
key element in helping a patient recover from a stroke. Exercise may help brain cells
near the stroke area get more oxygen, and it may improve strength and coordination
of the affected muscles.
Cancer
Cancer is new tissue growth resulting from the continuous and rapid production of
abnormal cells that invade and destroy specific tissues. Cancer, which may arise from
any type of cell in any body tissue, is not a single disease but includes a large number
of diseases classified according to the tissue and type of cell in which new growth
occurs. Several hundred classes of cancer exist, constituting (but not limited to) three
major subtypes: carcinomas, sarcomas, and leukemia/ lymphomas.
Many studies have found that exercise had a positive effect on physical and
psychological functioning of cancer patients while in treatment. These benefits
include the following objective and self-reported findings:

 increased functional capacity


 decreased body fat
 increased lean muscle mass
 decreased nausea and fatigue
 improved natural defense mechanisms
 improved sense of control
 improved mood
 improved self-esteem
 self reported improved quality of life
 improved work capacity,
 lower heart rates at given exercise intensity

Lung Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic
bronchitis, is the most common form of lung disease. Exercise improves quality of
life for patients with COPD by increasing:
 Exercise capacity
 Breathing efficiency
 Muscles' oxygen uptake
 Flow of air when exhaling
Arthritis
Arthritis is a group of conditions where there is damage caused to the joints of the
body. It is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 55. For many
years, doctors have recommended that patients with arthritis engage in
flexibility training to help improve range of motion and reduce some of the
stiffness in their afflicted joints. In recent years, doctors have also begun to
recognize the benefits of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Not only
does a tailored program that includes a balance of three types of exercises -
range-of-motion, strengthening, and endurance - can relieve the symptoms of
arthritis and protect joints from further damage, it also may:
 Help maintain normal joint movement
 Increase muscle flexibility and strength
 Help maintain weight to reduce pressure on joints
 Help keep bone and cartilage tissue strong and healthy
 Improve endurance and cardiovascular fitness

Osteoporosis
This is an age-related disease in which bones become gradually thinner, more porous
and less able to support the body. Osteoporosis attacks both men and women, but the
latter usually suffer more severely because bone loss accelerates rapidly after
menopause. By the time a woman reaches the age of 70, she may have lost as much as
30 percent of her bone density. One way to combat this is to engage in weightbearing
exercises which help to maintain bone density and strength by tipping the balance in
favor of bone formation. Muscle strength is just as important as bone strength,
because it helps prevent falls—a major cause of fractures.
Starting out? Take it slow, please.
From the above, exercise seems like a panacea, but please don't try to conquer the
world if you are starting out. This could do more harm than good. Whether you want
to begin exercising as a result of your doctor’s recommendation or your own
initiative, talk with your doctor before you start. Get good professional help, be
patient, start slowly and slowly increase frequency and duration. Consistency is a key
to success. Carefully consider what barriers might stand in the way of consistency and
develop strategies and accountabilities to assist in eliminating these barriers.

About the author

Paul Kuck is the founder of Fitness Tutor and owner of Transformation Studio at
River Valley Rd. He has a Master’s Degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science and is
the only Singapore Trainer awarded the Gold Certified Advanced Health + Fitness
Specialist by the American Council On Exercise (ACE). He is also a lecturer for the
Singapore Sports Council (SSC) Fitness Instructor Course. He writes for many
reputable local and foreign consumer and professional publications and speaks
frequently for companies.

For enquiries about his highly successful programs, which are primarily aim to help
busy professionals who want to shape up or combat complex health conditions, please
email him at paul@fitness-tutor.com or visit his wesite for more info: www.fitness-
tutor.com