Exercise is medicinal for body and mind

All over the world, millions of people go to the gym on a regular basis, seeking a slimline figure and a toned physique. But the focus is no longer on appearance alone, but on health too. The fitness sector is undergoing a sea change, with exercise increasingly being used for preventive and therapeutic purposes in gyms.

Physical activity is indisputably healthy. In recent years, research has indicated the full extent of its positive impact. Regular exercise not only boosts physical fitness and general well-being, but also guards against metabolic and cardiovascular conditions and can be used to treat obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In early stages, in particular, these disorders can be treated fully using exercise programmes. But even as the diseases progress, exercise can help reduce the amount of medication required. Furthermore, exercise improves fitness and maintains it over the long term.

We now also know that exercise does not just help people to keep their weight in check. In fact, it also improves glucose and fat metabolism – and even plays a role at the genetic level. Studies have shown that exercise regulates the activity of individual genes, thus influencing the emergence of tumours. And it is not just the body that benefits. It has been demonstrated that physical activity in parents can influence their offspring, even prior to conception. There are even signs that regular physical activity does not just lead to a longer and healthier life, but that it can even slow down the ageing process. And it is never too late to start. Older people still benefit from regular exercise, as it counteracts age-related changes, such as the loss of muscle mass, and thus maintains health and independence well into old age.

Unlike traditional gyms, “medicinal” workouts take place under the supervision of specially qualified trainers and follow a personalised programme geared towards health-related aspects. For example, the aim is not to lose weight or build up muscle in next to no time, but instead to train the entire body in a healthy way.

A key factor is the ongoing evaluation of the person’s training progress and health, with BIA devices such as the seca mBCA coming in particularly useful in this regard. On its own, weight is only of limited use in assessing training progress, as it does not distinguish between muscle and fat. By carrying out regular assessments using the seca mBCA, it is possible to keep a close eye on muscle gain and fat reduction – and quickly modify the training programme where necessary. Recording achievements in this way also has a motivational effect.

Some parts of the fitness sector have now adopted this new perspective, which sees exercise as medicinal for body and mind. More and more gyms are specialising in health-oriented workouts, and doctors are increasingly sending their patients to the gym, where exercise is taking the place of medication. Whilst the focus of medical fitness is on health, there is still a positive side effect: just like with traditional training, the person’s appearance also benefits from regular workouts.

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