The saying ‘sport and exercise are good for your health’ appears at first to be an irrefutable fact. However in this assignment I am going to look the information and facts that agree with this statement, and then compare and contrast with the information that disagrees. To begin it would seem logical to define the words in the statement to gain better understanding of their meaning. Sport has several meanings, such as ‘one being a good sport’ by showing honesty and respect even when defeated but for the purposes of this essay sport will be defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2008).
Exercise is defined as “activity requiring physical effort carried out for the sake of health and fitness” yet interestingly has a second meaning that could be very relevant to the above statement; “an activity carried out for a specific purpose” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2008). Good is defined as “to be desired or approved of, and health “the state of being free from illness or injury” or a person’s mental or physical condition” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2008). The definitions of each of these words show sport would involve exercise; or rather sport is applied exercise in pursuit of a goal or result. So for the purposes of this assignment I will compare and contrast them concurrently.
Sport & Exercise are good for your health?
Good health it would be fair to say is a desirable commodity or feature of a person. The link between physical activity and wellbeing is not a new idea or argument to promote exercise. Since the beginning of historical records the Chinese have practiced Tai Chi and other forms of physical activity to prevent diseases. Up to 1500 years ago the Roman physician, Galen was prescribing exercise to maintain good health (Brian J. Sharkey, 2006, p.14). This topic was raised by Dr Steven Blair and Harold Kohl at the American College of Sports Medicine in 1988. A study had been conducted on 1000 men to analyze the ‘all-cause’ death rate for sedentary or inactive men and those who were active. The results of the study have shaped the way we think about health and exercise to this day. They showed that a sedentary male was 5 times more at risk than an active male. (Dr Steven Blair, 1988).
The study also showed that between the active males there was a trend that as the level of fitness increased the risk reduced. It has been ascertained by the above study that a sedentary lifestyle puts an individual in greater risk of developing a condition that can lead to premature death. Besides fatality a lack of exercise can also have implications to one’s health while they are living.
The following areas have been highlighted by the UK National Health Service as areas that leading an active lifestyle can improve, prevent or reduce an individual’s risk of falling victim to; weight control, heart disease and stroke, cancer, mental health, immune system. (NHS National Health Service, 2008). Obesity is defined as “very fat” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2008), however has been specifically defined as an individual with a BMI score of 30 plus (National Institue of Health, 2008). The following table shows the dramatic increase in the percentage of the population with obesity since 1960.
(Kopelman, 2000, p.637) “A combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy body weight” (NHS National Health Service, 2008). The NHS (2008) also state that being overweight and obese leads onto various other health related problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and osteoarthritis. Exercise also has mental implications on an individual’s health. Dramatic changes have taken place as we have emerged into the 21st century. There have been radical shifts towards technology, life expectancy has increased thanks to advances in medicine, the family and societal support networks have changed. There is support that this has contributed towards to the increase in stress and depression in today’s society (Garfinkel PE, 2000). As with the obesity epidemic exercise has been proven to improve an individual’s mental state. When carrying out any form of strenuous exercise the pituitary gland in the brain releases chemicals called endorphins.
Exercise can lead to an improved mood, a feeling of euphoria often called the “runners high” (Peak Performance, 2008). It has also been proven to increase neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons in the hippocampus in the brain. Studies have shown that humans begin to lose nerve tissue at approximately 30 years of age. The effect exercise has on the brain increases neural connections, creating a denser network so we are able to process and store information. It has also been shown to initiate brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF that acts as a protective response to stress and improve synaptic plasticity which improves the efficiency of signal transmission between neurons. This transfer is generally considered the basis for learning and memory (McGovern, 2005). Looking at the information presented there is far more support to show exercise is more beneficial than it is detrimental to an individual’s health.
The negative implications could become apparent when an individual does not fully understand the way the body reacts or responds to exercise. The saying “too much of a good thing” (Shakespeare, 1623) comes in to play when planning a programme of exercise. An individual needs to take into account what effect the programme will have on his/her body and lifestyle. To achieve the best possible performance an athlete must be optimally trained so a good compromise is being achieved between achieving their potential and not fatiguing and reducing performance capacity (Richard B Kreider, 1998). The athlete who is subjected to overtraining would experience some of the following symptoms; decreased performance, prolonged recovery periods, loss of coordination, abnormal T wave ECG pattern, increased respiration frequency, chronic fatigue, muscle damage, muscle soreness and tenderness to name but a few.
It can also lead to much more severe conditions such as anorexia and bulimia (Richard B Kreider, 1998). As the above information shows too much exercise and training can lead to a fatigue and reduction in an individual’s health. Sport and exercise can also have negative implications when an athlete suffers an injury during the pursuit of their chosen sport or activity.
There are vast arrays of injuries an individual can pick up from partaking in exercise or sport. Anything that is used to perform the exercise can be injured for reasons such as poor technique, poor warm up or cool down procedure, lack of stretching, ill fitting or lack of required equipment, collisions including those with equipment, fixtures or other players. Most sports injuries are not the result of sudden catastrophe but occur because the individual has overused the muscles and over trained and according to research sports injuries could be reduced by up to 25% if athletes and participants took appropriate preventative action (Mac, 1997).
Taking into account all of the information the support for the statement “sport and exercise are good for your health” far outweighs the support to show it is not. The information shows that to partake in an active lifestyle is healthy; to not heed the warnings relating to overtraining and poor technique is irresponsible and can lead to a greater risk of suffering a sports injury and possibly chronic fatigue.
The positive factors show that partaking in regular moderate and or strenuous exercise will help maintain a positive state of mind, improve your ability to concentrate, process and store information. It enables you to maintain a healthy, balanced weight as long as you ensure you follow a healthy diet. It reduces your risk of suffering heart disease, strokes, cancer and osteoporosis and can combat depression and stress. Exercise appears to be the wonder drug for the masses, but it is not without its perils. To fully optimise its positive effect on an individual’s life it is extremely wise to fully educate yourself on the consequences and implications it may have before embarking on a training programme to avoid putting yourself at unnecessary risk. But to lead a sedentary lifestyle and not exercise, you put yourself in even greater risk. You decide.
Brian J. Sharkey, S.E.G., 2006. Fitness and Health. 6th ed. Leeds: Human Kinetics. Dr Steven Blair, H.K., 1988. Survey of physical activity habits as related to measured physical fitness. American Journal of Epidemiology, 127(6). Garfinkel PE, G.D., 2000. Mental Health – Getting beyond the stigma and catagories. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 78(4), pp.503-05. Kopelman, P.G., 2000. Obesity as a medical problem. St Bartholomew’s & The Royal London School Of Medicine Insight Review Article, 404, p.637. Mac, B., 1997. Injury Prevention. [Online] Available at: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/injury.htm [Accessed 10 Feb 2010]. McGovern, M.K., 2005. The Effects of Exercise on the Brain. [Online] Serendip Available at: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web2/mmcgovern.html [Accessed 10 Feb 2010]. National Institue of Health, 2008. Overweight and Obesity. [Online] Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health [Accessed 10 Feb 2010]. NHS National Health Service, 2008. Why is exercise good for me? [Online] Available at:
http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1142.aspx?CategoryID=52&SubCategoryID=141 [Accessed 10 Feb 2010]. Oxford Dictionaries, 2008. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Peak Performance, 2008. Endorphins. [Online] Available at: http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0430.htm [Accessed 10 Feb 2010]. Richard B Kreider, A.C.F.M.L.O., 1998. Overtraining in Sport. Illustrated Edition ed. Leeds: Human Kinetics. Shakespeare, W., 1623. As You Like It. Comedies, Histories & Tragedies ed. London: Folio.