by Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D.
Exercise is an activity that takes on a wide variety of forms from throwing a ball to climbing a mountain. It’s an activity that is enjoyed by people of all ages, the young and old alike. There are no limits on size or shape and allows participation at all levels from recreational to amateur and professional.
What is the real advantage of exercising? Certainly there is a tremendous psychological sense of well-being that comes from exercising as well as the social aspects of interacting with other athletic individuals. But what are the true physiological benefits to exercise?
If one sorts through the information available on the lack of exercise or inactivity, several eye opening statistics can be found.
- Recent studies show that skeletal bone loss occurs in both males and females at a rate of 1% per year after the age of 35.
- Muscle loss in both males and females occurs at a rate of 20-40% between the ages of 40 and 65.
- Cardiac function diminishes at a rate of 5-10% per decade between the ages of 25 and 75.
- Inactivity is one of the six major coronary risk factors as identified by the American Medical Association.
These are very sobering general statistics on inactivity or lack of exercise. How does that apply more specifically to the status of exercise in the United States? Facts tabulated by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness indicate that of the U.S. adult population:
- 25% are considered overweight.
- 30% are sedentary.
- Only 50% exercise regularly
- Only 10% exercise daily.
So when asked the basic question “Why Exercise?” or “Should I Exercise?” the answer is a resounding yes for a host of physiological reasons. Not only does exercise benefit us from a standpoint of psychological well-being and socialization, but it also has great health benefits to us.
Unfortunately, statistics indicate that only a small percentage of Americans actually benefit from the pleasure and the significant health advantages of a regular exercise routine. It is vitally important that each of us take the time and the effort to “Get in the Game.”
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D., of the Rothman Institute is the Head Team Physician for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Joseph’s University.