The Significance of Fitness for Physical Health
The Significance of Fitness for Physical Health
The human body is a complex multi-system entity, and the command system responsible for its overall functioning is called the nervous system. The majority of the body's operational systems are known as the musculoskeletal system, while there are also regulatory systems involved in material and energy exchange with the external environment, internal energy supply, and metabolism. These systems collectively contribute to the body's regulation. Only when these systems' structures and functions are normal can the complex "machine" of the human body operate properly. Any malfunction within these systems is the beginning of illness. The significance of fitness exercises in maintaining the normal structure and function of the body systems, resulting in the manifestation of health characteristics, lies in its ability to promote the coordination of these systems and continuously improve them while ensuring the normal course of life activities.
I. Fitness Exercises and the Improvement of the Nervous System's Function
The nervous system plays a "command" role in human life activities. It consists of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, cerebellum, and spinal cord, as well as the peripheral nervous system, including cranial and spinal nerves. All major nerves branch out into increasingly smaller branches that intricately penetrate the skin, musculoskeletal system, and other organs throughout the body. When your nervous system functions properly, you can perceive changes both internally and externally, and the central nervous system, such as the brain, can control and regulate various bodily activities. Therefore, the integrity of the nervous system's sensory, integrative, and motor functions forms the foundation for the realization of human life activities. Any impairment of the nervous system directly leads to abnormalities in various functional activities of the body, such as paralysis caused by a stroke, where the nervous system fails to control muscle activity.
Research indicates that fitness exercises can improve the functional condition of the nervous system to a certain extent, ensuring its normal activity and continuously enhancing its "command" functions. Engaging in scientifically and reasonably designed exercises during childhood and adolescence can promote brain development and enhance intellectual capacity. During adulthood, fitness exercises allow for sufficient activity of the nervous system, enhancing the intensity, balance, flexibility, and endurance of neural work processes. This ensures that nerve cells receive adequate energy substances and oxygen supply, enabling the brain and the entire nervous system to maintain vitality during demanding work processes and effectively alleviate mental tension. In middle and old age, fitness exercises can delay the decline in brain function caused by various factors and prevent brain dysfunction associated with aging.
II. Fitness Exercises and the Improvement of the Musculoskeletal System's Function
The musculoskeletal system consists of bones, joints, skeletal muscles, and the fascia that envelops these organs. It carries out various bodily movements under the control of the nervous system, including daily activities such as eating and dressing, basic movements like walking, running, and jumping, as well as complex movements like playing sports, gymnastics, and rollerblading. The musculoskeletal system gradually deteriorates after reaching adulthood due to long-term use. While it may not cause life-threatening diseases, injuries, pain, and functional degeneration of muscles, joints, and bones can significantly impair an individual's ability to perform daily tasks, leading to a sharp decline in their quality of life. Therefore, maintaining the strength of the musculoskeletal system and preserving its structural and functional integrity is not only a symbol of vitality but also a crucial guarantee for the execution of commands by the body's command system.
Research suggests that engaging in fitness exercises can provide beneficial stimuli to the bones during childhood and adolescence, promoting the proliferation of epiphyseal cartilage cells, increasing bone size and growth, and facilitating bone development. During young adulthood, fitness exercises further enhance peak bone mass, enabling the skeleton to withstand greater external forces and improving its mechanical properties such as bending resistance, fracture resistance, compressive strength, and torsional resistance. In middle-aged and older individuals, outdoor fitness exercises under sufficient sunlight not only delay the reduction of bone mass but also facilitate the absorption of calcium through UV exposure, thus preventing osteoporosis. Similarly, engaging in fitness exercises can enhance the flexibility and stability of joints, strengthening their ability to withstand loads, improving joint mobility to adapt to extensive movements, and preventing joint pain caused by muscle weakness, cartilage degeneration, and ligament laxity. Stretching exercises and similar practices in fitness activities can increase the flexibility of joint capsules, ligaments, and surrounding muscles.
The impact of fitness exercises on skeletal muscles largely depends on the type and implementation of the exercise regimen. Resistance exercises, such as push-ups, can increase muscle volume, strength, and contraction speed. Aerobic endurance exercises, such as jogging, increase the number and diameter of capillaries in muscles, and open up "backup" capillaries to enhance blood flow, ensuring good blood supply to the muscles and promoting vigorous metabolism. Stretching exercises mainly enhance muscle elasticity and extensibility, increasing the range of motion in joints and preventing muscle strains. Therefore, regardless of the type of fitness exercise, when implemented scientifically and reasonably, they can optimize the structure and function of the musculoskeletal system.
III. Fitness Exercises and the Improvement of the Regulatory Systems' Function
The regulatory systems responsible for the body's life activities include the circulatory system for transporting substances and energy, the respiratory system for gas exchange, and related systems such as the digestive, urinary, and endocrine systems. These systems not only provide energy for the nervous and musculoskeletal systems' activities but also facilitate material and energy exchange between the body and the external environment, as well as the defense against harmful pathogens and metabolic waste. Defects in the structure and function of these systems not only affect the execution of bodily movements but may also lead to life-threatening diseases. For example, cardiovascular obstruction can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Research shows that engaging in fitness exercises can increase the size of the heart, thicken the ventricular wall, enhance myocardial contractility, and lower resting heart rate (a phenomenon known as sinus bradycardia in medicine). A lower resting heart rate is an indicator of good heart function, as it reduces myocardial oxygen consumption, improves myocardial blood supply, enhances the heart's functional reserve, and has a positive impact on the development of exercise-induced cardiac hypertrophy. Long-term fitness exercises can thicken blood vessel walls, increase elasticity, expand vessel diameter, increase the concentration of high-density lipoproteins, and decrease the concentration of low-density lipoproteins, greatly slowing down the hardening of blood vessels. With increased vascular elasticity, the likelihood of developing high blood pressure and vascular obstruction is significantly reduced. Scientifically engaging in fitness exercises can increase the depth of breathing and lower respiratory rate during rest, and individuals who regularly participate in fitness exercises experience an increased demand for oxygen during muscle activity, leading to enhanced respiratory movements. Inactive lung alveoli also expand, increasing lung capacity and improving respiratory system function. Furthermore, ample research confirms that fitness exercises also promote the improvement of the digestive, urinary, endocrine, and reproductive systems' structures and functions. Not only can this effectively prevent diseases specific to these organ systems, but it also contributes to maintaining overall body health, particularly in terms of the endocrine system and immune system enhancement.
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