Exercise has gained momentum as an important measure for the promotion of health and prevention of diseases. We hear numerous terminologies such as Physical Activity, Physical fitness and exercise being used as synonyms. But these terminologies differ from each other.
Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by contraction of skeletal muscles that results in caloric requirement over resting expenditure, this means that any activity which makes the body move or the muscles work is physical activity, even our daily routine activities like bathing, cooking, combing are physical activities.
Physical fitness is the set of attributes or characteristics individuals have or achieve that relates to their ability to perform physical activity. Physical fitness can be classified into two types: skill-related and health-related. Skill-related physical fitness is given to sportsmen and has components like agility, coordination, balance, power, speed and reaction time whereas Health-related fitness components include cardio-respiratory endurance, body composition, muscular strength and flexibility which usually we perform in the gym.
Exercise is a type of physical activity, it is planned, structured and repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain the physical fitness components. For example, when we do push-ups, we repeatedly do the movement, and this is eventually in a progressive manner where the intensity, frequency, time or types of the exercises are changed or increased.
Over the years, exercise physiology has evolved leaps and bounds. However, the science of exercise for health and disease is not new to mankind. Hippocrates and Galen suggested the use of exercise in the treatment of diseases. Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, provides a detail description of the role of Vyayama (exercise) in health and disease.
Ayurveda defines Vyayama as a desired physical activity which causes fatigue to the body, brings about stability & provides strength when performed in optimum measure.
Vyayama (exercise) is a multifaceted entity; a daily regime for maintenance and promotion of health, a measure for future disease prevention, a prescription for the treatment of diseases, an evaluation tool in the assessment of the strength of an individual and a factor for enhancing immunity and not merely physical activity. The exercise prescription is individualistic based on multiple factors such as age, sex, season, psychosomatic constitution, strength etc.
Activities such as swinging heavyweights, pulling bowstrings, bending bows and bending of the body in various directions, activities with the use of swords and arrows while riding on elephants, horses and chariots or making quick marches on foot relevant to the ancient times were Vyayama; these could be summed up as those activities which increased blood circulation and respiration.
Ayurveda clearly states “Vyayama for the body and yoga for the mind”.
Dr. Aarzu Bhavangri (Noorani) MPT, MIA, MIAFT
Dr Sneha Kulkarni MD (Ayurveda), YIC