Physical exercise is a great immune-stimulant if done in moderation, and it also improves neuromuscular integration in all age groups. Its effect of boosting self-confidence and self-esteem stems, to some extent, from the improved oxygen supply to the cells and the resulting well-being in all parts of the body and mind. Exercise is an excellent means of increasing happiness in life, especially if it involves challenges that require creativity.
The conventional approach to exercise promotes the belief that a good workout takes you to the limits of your endurance, leaving you exhausted and tired. This is not true. Exercise that exhausts your body is an indirect act of violence that the body perceives as a kind of punishment for not performing well enough. The pain that shows in people’s faces when they struggle through a tough workout program is an indication that the body is suffering from overexertion. This sort of exercise defeats its purpose. Any form of strong physical exertion upsets Vata and causes the secretion of abnormal amounts of stress hormones such as adrenaline; this leaves the body restless and shaky. The body, thus depleted of energy, is unable to do the repair work that arises from the demanding workout, leaving the cardiovascular system weak and vulnerable to other stress factors.
Post-exercise exhaustion is a serious cause of illness that affects many unsuspecting people who think they are doing themselves a favor by pushing their bodies to the limit. In the excitement of competitive sports, you may not be aware at first how strenuously you are exerting yourself, but once the adrenaline rush is over, the side effects start kicking in. Besides exhaustion and possible injury, professional athletes are more likely to suffer from a deficient immune system, which makes the body prone to infections and other ailments. For this reason, athletes consume a much larger quantity of prescribed drugs than the average person does. The thymus gland, which activates lymphocytes and controls energy supplies, may actually shrink in size and leave the body weak and debilitated as a direct result of over conditioning the body and stressing the mind.
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