Understanding Exercise – What is exercise?

Exercise is the best medicine for keeping your body healthy. The Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research conducted an eight-year study concerning death rates among people that exercise versus people that do not conduct regular exercise. They concluded that a lack of exercise is as dangerous to your health as smoking or high cholesterol.

According to Gary Yanker, “Exercise is a concentrated form of physical activity that repeats the same movements over and over again, so that the overall body or an individual body part becomes stronger or more flexible.” I would simplify this by defining exercise as “Deliberate movement repeated for stimulation.” By stimulating muscle growth and regeneration, the body conforms to the challenges it is presented and adapts for survival.

A consistent exercise program conditions the body to elicit a specific biological response.  This includes not only the musculature of the body, but the bone, chemical production, and nervous system. Exercise also aids significantly in the mind/body connection and behavioral health. Inactive muscles and bones can grow weak, tighten, tear, or break, causing pain and affecting mobility. These problems can be felt in the form of pinched nerves, pulled muscles, and joint pain that send signals to the brain that something is wrong. When these problems continue without being properly addressed, pain can become chronic and unbearable, requiring medication, and your psychological well-being begins to falter into depression, removing your ability to believe you can make a change.

Exercise also promotes blood and fluid flow, which is critical to nutrient breakdown and delivery. Metabolic responses are dependent on the body’s ability to fuel itself efficiently. When the body is unable to generate energy, we have problems with basic movement including standing, sitting, and walking, leaving us feeling winded or persistently fatigued.

All of these effects from lack of exercise cause stress on the body. To compensate, we begin to rely on external drugs and stimulants; caffeine to make us feel alert and energetic, alcohol to relax us and remove the worry in our mind, and medication to address anything our body is missing or is not functioning properly. Medication, however, only provides temporary relief, and their persistent use further weakens the body

However, the exercise routine you use now will not necessarily reduce your medical risks and improve your health, and may even be hazardous to your health. This is because of the significant differences in nutrition, physical ability, and other factors that are unique to your goals and exercise requirements. Something is better than nothing, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Exercise requires individual experimentation.

Proper exercise can treat, and aid in the prevention of, aging, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and a multitude of other medical problems.


Yanker, Gary. Exercise Rx. New York, New York: Kodansha America Inc., 1999.