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Is one of the basic functions of every living organism. If you want to take a maximal advantage of movement to improve the quality of your health, it’s very useful to know the positive effects, but also to know possible risks of physical activity.

The positive effects of correctly performed physical activity

A) Effects on the circulatory and the respiratory systems:

  • optimizes functions of the circulatory and the respiratory systems (lowers heart rate when calm as well as in exercise of middle and submaximal intensity, improves the heart efficiency and improves its parameters;
  • enlarges the lumen of coronary arteries and the heart muscle capillary density, slightly lowers blood pressure if someone is in normal or if he has high blood pressure, increases the maximum oxygen consumption (the aerobic capacity);
  • combination of increased aerobic capacity and optimal fat reduction is the most effective way of stress reduction;
  • it is significant that older people get tired very easily, but physical activity eliminates fatigue and increase mental and physical performance.

B) Lowers disease risk of heart and bloodstream:

  • people with a sedentary lifestyle take much bigger risk of the ischemic heart disease than physically active people;
  • people with a movement deficit has much lower chance to survive the first heart attack than regularly working out people;
  • it distinctly improves quality of life to patients with heart arteries disease. It positively improves the risk factors of ischemic heart disease and lowers the costs of health care.

C) Positive influence on some of chemical processes in blood:

  • lowers risk of atherosclerosis by changing activity of many enzymes. Lowers the level of blood fat (triglycerides) and cholesterol (risk factor of atherosclerosis), on the contrary increases HDL-cholesterol, which reduces atherosclerosis;
  • sedentary lifestyle increases insulin hormone needs, which regulates sugar metabolism. Insulin overproduction leads over time to partial depletion of the internal secretory part of pancreas and formation of diabetes. Optimal physical activity increases sensitivity of muscle fibers to insulin and stabilize sugar metabolism. That is why regular workout in optimal intensity prevents diabetes.

D) Helps with reducing amount of body fat and weight optimizing:

  • workout accelerates metabolism, mobilizes fat reserves and increases the energy output. Combination of workout with correct diet leads to weight loss;
  • combination of physical activity and low calorie diet is the most effective method for central obesity reduction. The biggest risk factor for middle-aged and elderly people is visceral fat. The visceral fat causes diabetes, defects in blood fat metabolism, development of ischemic heart disease, heart attack and sudden death.

E)Positively influences mental activity:

  • lowers stress, sense of fear, depression and aggressiveness, improves the quality of sleep and increase self-confidence;
  • it helps elderly to shorten the psychomotor reaction time. That improves movement coordination and better management of daily tasks;
  • positive influence on addiction treatment – smoking, alcohol and drugs.

F) Positively influences the motion system:

  • improves flexibility and strength of ligaments and tendons, joint flexibility, increase muscle strength and endurance;
  • leads to a rise of capillary net density in skeletal muscles. Increases the volume of mitochondria and their enzymes activity. That’s why it accelerate fat metabolism;
  • improves bone architecture, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

G) Positively influences the transport system:

  • Lowers platelet aggregation, increases the volume of blood plasma and reduces the blood density. Prevents formation of atherosclerotic plaque.

H) Positively influences work efficiency:

  • Increases work productivity and capacity. Reduces illnesses, number of work accidents and treatment costs.

CH) Slows aging:

  • Helps to reduce free radicals by enlarging the volume of mitochondria, increases activity of your own antioxidant enzyme systems.

Risks of physical activity performed incorrectly.
When should we start only after consulting with a specialist?

  • Positive family history – incidence of heart attack in siblings or parents (man to 50 years of age, woman to 55 years of age);
  • Heart and arteries diseases – ischemic heart disease, brain vessels, legs (age doesn't matter);
  • Presence of ischemic heart disease risk factors – smoking, high blood pressure (systolic blood pressure higher than 160 mm Hg, diastolic higher than 90 mm Hg), overweight or obesity (BMI higher than 25 or 30), high cholesterol (higher than 6.2 mmol/l), high atherosclerotic index, high blood sugar and uric acid;
  • Chronic diseases of internal body organs, after infections;
  • After surgeries, tumors;
  • Degenerative changes of central joints and spine;
  • Age over 40 for man, 50 for woman, sedentary occupation, longtime physical inactivity.

For all-round positive heath effect of physical activity, you have to fulfill certain conditions:

  1. Choose the main type of aerobic physical activity (endurance, during which there is blood oxygenating). It is accurate to your age, health status and physical condition.
  2. Determine the optimal aerobic load, optimal workout length and weekly frequency according to your health status, age and physical condition.
  3. Choose the right strategy of load increasing.
  4. Care for versatility of workout program - fill in compensation exercises, strengthening and regeneration exercises, that lower one way loading of organism and increases overall resistance of organism.
  5. Learn to make exercising a part of your life style, which brings you joy, and improves your mental and physical condition.

Learn how to perceive intensity of load during workout

Checking the intensity of endurance workouts is possible by checking heart rate or guess according to subjective feelings.

Constant state is typical foroptimal exercise intensity during endurance workout. While in constant state, the body burns energy, when getting enough oxygen. Perfect burning of energetic reserves (sugar, fat) to carbon dioxide and water, happens during this kind of exercise. Optimal intensity of endurance workout has positive influence to all basic functional systems of the organism and the result of correct load method is making progress of physical condition and overall resistance of organism. Appropriate load intensity, as seen on the values of heart rate/minute is approximately 60-85% of maximum heart rate, but it also depends on physical condition (athletes might have higher). Lower limit, of the positive effect of endurance exercise on the human body, varies around 50% of maximum heart rate. If the value of heart rate during the physical activity is lower (50-60% of maximum HR), the overall positive effect of exercise is lower too. For medically and physically weakened individuals, we choose lower intensity loads at the beginning and gradually extend exercise time. Increase the intensity of the load much later (approximately after half of year).

Measurement of heart rate values can be performed during exercise using the special equipment – a cardio monitor (e.g. different types of sport testers). You have to consider the heart beat recording interval, when reading values on the sport tester. (We recommend setting shorter measurement intervals e.g. 10 sec., which reflects current heart rate more accurately than longer intervals e.g. 20 sec. - 1 min). If you do not have a heart rate monitor (sport tester) you can measure the load intensity during exercise by palpation. You have to use index and middle finger of your right hand and attach it to the left side of left hand’s wrist or carotid artery, feel the pulse and measure how many times your heart pulses in 10 seconds. Then multiply it by six. You have to measure immediately after the workout, because if you measure later, the measurement is not objective.

Appropriate exercise intensity can be calculated according to the following formula:

  1. Estimated maximum heart rate (HRmax) = 220 – age
    The estimation applies only to individuals without cardiovascular system diseases and people who are not taking medication lowering heart rate and blood pressure).
  2. The formula for calculating the appropriate intensity of load (in this formula we calculate with upper limit of the recommended heart rate values during exercise - HRload:
  3. Exercise for health: 50-60% HRmax: [0,6 x (220 – age – HRrest)] + HRrest = HRload
    Weight loss: 60-70% HRmax: [0,7 x (220 – age – HRrest)] + HRrest = HRload
    Condition improving: 70-80% HRmax: [0,8 x (220 – age – HRrest)] + HRrest = HRload
    Athletic training: 80-90% HRmax: [0,9 x (220 – age – HRrest)] + HRrest = HRload

Calculation example:60 years old healthy man, sports and recreational activity regularly, above-average physical condition, the heart rate when calm (HRrest) 65/min.

Recommended range 70-80% HRmax.

[0.7 x (220 HR/min – 60 years – 65 HR/min)] + 65 = 131.5 HR/min (HRload)

Upper limit: [0.8 x (220 HR/min – 60 years – 65 HR/min)] + 65 = 141 HR/min (HRload)

Optimal recommended load zone is 132 – 141 HR/min.

Caution: Calculated values of the heart rate can’t be used for people with cardiovascular system diseases, or those who are on medication, lowering the value of heart rate and blood pressure. People with this kind of limitation (if their medical condition allows them) determine load values on the basis of stress tests carried out by a specialist - cardiologist.

Subjective estimation of training load intensity

The most important subjective intensity indicator of load is perception and monitoring of breath sufficiency and exhaustion.

Intensity is too low: You can fluently speak and you are able to sing during the workout. You have a slight feeling of body heat, sweat on the forehead and body is minimal. It is necessary to increase the intensity of exercise to achieve positive health effect!

Intensity is optimal: You are breathing fast and deep, you are still able to talk, but not to sing. You feel the heat and you are sweating on the forehead and body. Exercise intensity is appropriate and you can continue the exercise in the same intensity.

Intensity is too high: It is usually associated with an insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart and the muscle tissue. In the same time there is a significant increase of heart rate to the anaerobic zone. Heart muscle and skeletal muscles work in oxygen debt. Anaerobic exercise load is characterized by strong feeling of breath shortness, muscle exhaustion due to increased production of lactic acid and inability to continue exercising in the same effort. You can’t speak fluently, you are gasping for breath, you feel you own heart-beat, you turn red you are excessively sweating on the face and body. You are in the zone, when the body is working in oxygen debt. You have to reduce intensity of the exercise or take a break, catch your breath and continue the exercise in slower speed!

Risk feelings during the physical activity:

  • Being short of breath, feeling your own heartbeat, irregular pulse, hypertensive reaction, sudden weakness.
  • Burning feeling on the chest, pain on chest or chest spine, upper abdominal pain, pain in the left arm.
  • Urgent headache, dizziness, paleness and cold sweat on your forehead.
    If any of these feelings occur during exercise, stop exercising immediately, sit down, take a breath and if it does not stop within a few minutes, call for help.

How can you influence workout intensity when exercising outdoor
People in lower physical condition have to change the speed of exercises according to the terrain and check the breath sufficiency continuously. You should check recommended heart rate frequency, if you have a heart rate monitor. You should slow down and shorten your step when walking uphill, walking speed can be increased when walking downhill. Select lower gears when cycling uphill. If you feel short of breath, get off the bike and walk, or take a rest.

Weather and physical exercise load
There is a risk of overheating, when it’s sunny and temperatures are above 25°C. You have to pay attention to sufficient fluids intake, use lightweight breathable clothing and headgear. Children suffer extreme temperatures far worse than adults, their thermoregulation system is imperfect and much more sensitive. We have to pay attention to provided frequent fluid intake, frequent resting in the shade and we should use lightweight breathable clothing and headgear when the weather is warm. Older people and people with lower body condition or chronic diseases are sensitive more to weather changes. These people are more sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity. They feel headache, exhaustion, drowsiness, joint pain and pain of alimentary canal, blood pressure changes, heart rhythm disorders, feelings of breathlessness. If you have any of these symptoms always skip workout. If the symptoms are light, reduce the workout intensity. Higher risk of heart complications threatens mostly cardiac patients.

What kind pf physical activity do we recommend?

The best medical effect to affect metabolism and cardiovascular diseases prevention has cyclic endurance exercise. These exercises are simple and allow you to move at controlled load intensity.

Walking is suitable for people in the middle age and elderly, healthy or physically weaker. Prior medical check is necessary for people with cardiovascular disease. You can affect the load intensity by changing the walking speed (length and frequency of steps, movements of upper limbs). Contralateral movement of the upper and lower limbs occurs when walking. This movement affects trunk and spine muscles positively. For people with joint diseases of lower limbs and spine, people after injuries, surgeries or spine diseases, after a stroke, etc. it is necessary to use special rehabilitation procedures. You should follow specialist’s recommendation.

Nordic walking
is walking with poles and it came from northern countries. It was formed by derivation of walking (running) on skis. It is recommended for all ages. It is suitable for all types of impairment, including lighter neurological disorders and in many cases it can replace the use of crutches. Connection of walk and the use of poles, allows increased involvement of upper body muscles when comparing to normal walking. Using poles partially relieves the spine and joints and increases feeling of stability, when walking in a rough terrain. Choosing the correct length of poles is very important. When standing straight, we hold the stick leaning on the ground with lower end and the angle between the forearm and upper arm should be 90-100°. The basic principle of Nordic walking is the same as normal walking. There is a contralateral movement of upper and lower limbs. We should emphasize active hand stretching when perform fitness Nordic walking. The hand with the pole should go behind the body, similar to cross-country skiing. We use the poles as a support, to increase the feeling of stability, when walking in challenging rugged terrain (trekking walking).

Jogging (combination of walking and running) is suitable mostly for healthy young people under 30 years of age, with normal weight or a little overweight. It is possible to start with jogging without previous regular physical activity in this age. To healthy people with sedentary occupation we recommend to start after previous regular based physical training (walking, Nordic walking, a bicycle riding). Good functional condition of the skeletomuscular system is required so as the body mass index within the normal range (BMI under 25.0). We recommend jogging only to healthy athletic individuals over 40 years of age.

Walking in snowshoes is winter variant of Nordic walking. The advantage is that it’s relatively safe movement in open winter terrain, when the snow is high.

Cross-country skiing is winter alternative to Nordic walking or running. Contralateral movement of the arms and legs and bigger or smaller slide occurs during cross-country skiing on the flat surface. Slide partially converts the vertical load from the lower limbs to the slide, so there is a slight reduction of the load of central joints. After a bounce, when the back feet gets further from the snow, there is a short moment, when all the weight is transferred to sliding leg in cross-county skiing. Energy used varies according to terrain profile, snow conditions and used waxes when cross-county skiing. Cross-country skiing is suitable for all healthy people of all ages. Due the increased risk of falling, this sport is not recommended to obese people, people after surgeries, injuries and joint replacements. People with coronary heart disease or post-myocardial infarction are at increased risk of cardiac complications and they should protect their self from hypothermia, during longer trips. Another option of walking, running, Nordic walking and cross-country skiing is use of different types of home simulators, which we usually use when the weather is bad.

Biking is mostly suitable to healthy young or mid-age people without limitation. Cardiac patients have to check their subjective feelings and recommended heart rate value, to make sure that the exercise load is accurate. We recommend biking in the flat terrain. Comparing biking and walking, biking lowers pain feelings of lower limbs to people with joint function troubles. Use of rehabilitation tricycles is suitable for elderly people with degenerative changes in weight-bearing joints, disorders of lower limbs and troubles with keeping a balance. Stability of the tricycle greatly increases safety of riding. Disadvantage of cycling is increased risk of fall. We can minimize it using the home simulators. Use of the home simulators is especially recommended for seniors, people with poor balance keeping or as part of medical rehabilitation program or recovering period. It is more difficult to keep the same load intensity (according to terrain modifications, wind, temperature, trail surface) comparing to walking. Avoid busy roads if possible. We recommend riding in nature.

Additional exercises:
In order, to increase the effect of aerobic exercise, it is good to add exercise to the program that helps to cultivate the organism. These exercises are stretching, fitness and relaxing exercises that we use to improve the joint mobility, correcting of the muscle imbalance, increasing muscle strength and reducing the negative impact of one side load. Yoga exercises or Chinese health gymnastics can be added too. Not just because of the positive effect on musculoskeletal system, but also for overall mental relaxation. These exercises should be always combined with correct breathing.

Regeneration of organism during and after the exercise:
We use a simple regeneration tools for faster recovery. We can use a self-massage of the body or use a cold water partial bath of lower or upper limbs when outdoors. We can combine foot bath with walking in the knee-high water (stork walk) when we have the opportunity. The feeling of overall freshness and tiredness reduction after partial bath in cold water is admirable. For overall regeneration after training, or in days when we don’t exercise, we can choose from wide range of procedures: massage, sauna, Scottish jet, hydrotherapy, relax swimming etc. If at home, we recommend a proven combination: contrast body shower - shower alternating hot and cold water. Then carefully rub the body with towel, until the skin turns light red. Take a short bed rest (approx. 10-15 min), add deep breathing (full yogic breath) in the combination with total body relaxation. This way you usually achieve also overall mental relaxation and pleasant euphoric mood.

Indication of physical activity for selected diseases

Disease Load Walk NW Run Bike
MSS- spine 1 + ++ - -
MSS- LL 1 + ++ - ++
MSS- polyarth. 1 + + - ++
Bechterew s. 1 + ++ - -
IHD 1-2 Di +++ ++ - +
State after HA 1-2 +++ ++ +
Heart Fibrillation
ID- legs 1 ++ ++ - ++
ID- brain 1 +++ +++ - ++
Varix 1-2 ++ ++ + ++
Reaven´s syn. 2+ Di +++ +++ + +++
Diabetes I 1-2 Di +++ +++ + ++
Diabetes II 2 +Di +++ +++ + ++
Obesity 2 +Di ++ +++ - ++
Obesity risk 2 +Di - + - ++ Tr
DS- stomach 1-2 Di +++ +++ + +
DS- duodenum 1-2 Di +++ +++ + ++
DS- intestines 1-2 Di +++ +++ + +
Hemmorhoid 1-2 Di ++ ++
DS- after surgery 1 Di +++ + - -
Resp. allergy 1-3 +++ +++ ++ +++
Resp. astma 1-2 +++ +++ +
Resp. cyst. fibr. 1-2 +++ +++ - +
Resp. emphysema 1-2 +++ +++ - +
Paresys LL 1-2 + ++ - -
Parkinson´s dis. 1 +++ +++ - -
Multiple sclerosis/td> 1 +++ +++ - -
Alzheimer´s dis. 1 +++ +++ - -
Thyroid g. hyper. 1-2 +++ +++ + +
Oncological. tr. 2 +++ +++ + ++
Oncology tr. 1 +++ ++ - +

1 low intensity load 50-60% HRmaxmírná zátěž intenzita 50-60% SF max
2 middle intensity load 60-70% HRmax
++ suitable form of treatment
+++ prefered form of treatment for this disease
Di - diet

Disease Swim Aq.g Rehab. exerc. Resist exerc. Dance Alter. exerc.
MSS - spine +++ +++ + + ++
MSS - LL +++ +++ + + ++
MSS - polyarth. +++ +++ + + ++
Bechterew s. +++ +++ + ++
IHD ++ ++ + + ++
State after HA + ++ - ++
Heart fibrilation -
ID - legs ++ +++ + + ++
ID - brain + ++ + ++
Varix +++ +++ + + ++
Reaven´s syn. +++ ++ ++ ++ ++
Diabetes I +++ +++ ++ ++ +
Diabetes II +++ +++ ++ +++ +
Obesity +++ ++ +++ +++ +
Obesity risk +++ ++ +++ + +
DT - stomach ++ ++ + ++
DT - duodenum +++ ++ + ++
DT - intestinum +++ ++ + ++
Hemmorhoid +++ +++ ++ + ++
DT - after surgery ++ +++ - + ++
Resp. allergy +++ +++ +++ ++ ++
Resp. asthma +++ +++ + + +++
Resp. cyst. fibr. +++ +++ - + ++
Resp. emphysema +++ +++ - + ++
Paresy LL +++ +++ ++ - ++
Parkinson´s dis. ++ +++ - ++ +++
Multiple sclerosis ++ +++ - ++ +++
Alzheimr´s dis. + +++ - ++ +++
Thyrold g. hyper. +++ +++ + ++ ++
Thyrold g. hypof. +++ +++ ++ +++ +++
Oncology tr. ++ +++ + ++ +++

1 low intensity load 50-60% HRmaxmírná zátěž intenzita 50-60% SF max
2 middle intensity load 60-70% HRmax
++ suitable form of treatment
+++ prefered form of treatment for this disease
Di - diet

Fluid and energetic income during exercise:
We choose fluid and energy intake according to total length, intensity of exercise load and surrounding temperature. It postpones tiredness.

Lenght of ex. Load intensity Air temperature Fluid income Energy income
Under 45 min. 60-70% HR max 15-20°C 250-300ml 0
45 – 90 min. 60-70% HR max 15-20°C 400-500 ml 50 Kcal
100-180 min. 60-70% HR max 15-20°C 600-750 ml 100-150 Kcal
180-240min 60-70% HR max 15-20°C 750x
200-400 Kcal
Under 45 min. 60-70% HR max 20-30°C 300-500ml 0-50 Kcal
45 – 90 min. 60-70% HR max 20-30°C 500-750ml 100-150 Kcal
100-180 min. 60-70% HR max 20-30°C 750- 1250ml 150- 250 Kcal
180-240min 60-70% HR max 20-30°C 1250-2000ml 300-450 Kcal

1 Kcal = 4,185 KJ

We recommend dividing the overall fluid income into small doses. It is necessary for diabetics, beside the regular fluid intake, to ensure bigger income of energy (carbohydrates) in small doses, which prevents hypoglycemia. Reduce energy intake to minimum and replace it with increased intake of fluid including minerals for overweight people. We recommend intensity of exercise around 60% of maximal heart rate and prolonging of the exercise time. Fat burning dominates at this intensity of exercise.

Clothing and footwear:
We choose clothes according to the outdoor temperature. The body has to remain dry, that’s why we always choose breathable bottom layer. Changes of weather are always possible, that’s why you should choose more layers, especially when staying outside for a longer time period. The outer layer should be waterproof and breathable (for example membrane). You should wear headgear when temperatures are very low or high.

Footwear: Choosing correct shoe size is important. Between the longest finger and the end of the shoe, has to be space at least 1-1.5 cm (foot slightly increases the content when exercising). The sole should be tailored to walk on the ground. Orthopedic insole is necessary for people with poor foot arch. We require bigger attention to choice of footwear to diabetic patients, because of reduced skin sensitivity and poor healing of abrasions.



This project Health Tracks in the Plzeň Region is co-financed by the European Union.