Strength and Fitness - The Impartial Guide to strength, fitness, endurance and nutrition

Health Benefits Of Exercise

One of the biggest benefits of exercise can be seen in the reduced risk of Coronary heart disease (CHD) following an appropriate training plan.  CHD refers to conditions affecting the heart muscle and the arteries supplying the heart with vital oxygen.  Changes in these arteries over many years can lead to angina, heart attacks and death.  There are approximately 470 deaths per day from CHD, and the cost to the NHS runs into billions of pounds per year.  Research has demonstrated that even a modest amount of exercise may significantly reduce the risk of of dying from CHD (Jette, M. et al., 1988; Pollock, M.L. et al., 1971; Woolf-May, K. et al., 1997).  It is clearly of benefit to the individual aswel as the NHS that individuals partake in regular exercise programmes.  The benefits of exercise in the treatment and prevention of chronic illness will be discussed more thoroughly in the health section.  Below is a summary of the health benefits of cardiovascular training (CV), muscular strength and endurance training, and flexibility training:

Cardiovascular training benefits to health:

  • Stronger Heart muscle and increased pumping capacity (stroke volume) of the heart
  • Increased muscular endurance in the exercised muscles
  • Reduced risk of CHD
  • Reduced risk of Stroke
  • Can normalise or reduce blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of blood clots (thrombosis)
  • Reductions in bodyfat
  • Increased levels of High Density Lipoproteins (Good fats)
  • Decreased levels of Low Density Lipoproteins (Bad fats)
  • Helps to build and maintain healthy bones joints and muscles
  • Reduce stress levels and promote feelings of wellbeing

Muscular Strength and Endurance training benefits to health:

  • Reduced risk of Osteoporosis
  • Helps to maintain and increase muscle mass
  • Increased endurance of muscles
  • Increased strength
  • Improved posture and therefore helps to reduce back problems
  • Maintains healthy joints

Flexibility training:

  • Maintenance and improvements in the range of motion
  • Improved posture
  • Reduction in general aches and pains
  • Reduced risk of back problems

Health benefits of exercise references: 

Jette, M., Sidney, K. and Cambell, J. (1988) Effects of a twelve-week walking programme on maximal and submaximal work output indices in sedentary middle-aged men and women. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 28, 59-66. 

Pollock, M. L., Miller, H. S., Janeway, R., Linnerud, A. C., Robertson, B. and Valentino, R. (1971) Effects of walking on body composition and cardiovascular function of middle aged men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 30, 126-130.

Woolf-May, K., Bird, S. and Owen, Andrew. (1997) Effects of an 18 week walking programme on cardiac function inpreviously sedentary or relatively inactive adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 31, 1, 48-53.