Proactive Healthcare: The Other Side of the Coin

When it comes to healthcare, the main side that people consider is the medical sector, which (strictly speaking) is where you go when something has actually gone wrong, i.e. when you are sick or you have sustained an injury. This is what one might call a reactive approach to healthcare, aimed at treating existing conditions rather than preventing them from happening in the first place. Unfortunately, not every healthcare system in the world has the resources or funding to embrace a more proactive approach, as it may be too overwhelmed reacting in an environment where patients outnumber practitioners many times over. However, one could (and maybe should) turn to the leisure industry in this regard, to be a shining light in the prevention of poor health. 

Exercise & Cardiovascular Health

Exercise is not just about looking good; it is arguably vital for one’s own survival. Where the cardiovascular system is concerned, the key factor is aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is a form of cardiovascular conditioning and is commonly used when running, swimming or cycling. Semantically, aerobic means ‘with oxygen’, i.e. activities which require a greater supply of blood flow and oxygen to the muscles in order to function effectively. Aerobic exercise is the one which leaves you breathless, the result of increased demand for oxygen around the body. The increase in blood flow, by proxy, forces the heart to pump faster to keep up with the body – similar to what happens when you rev a car engine in order to go faster. Unlike a car engine, however, the heart acts like a muscle, getting stronger with controlled use. This helps to reduce the risk of heart attacks, lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate and significantly reduces the risk of diseases such as anemia. 

Muscle Development

Muscles develop through anaerobic exercise. When muscles are used, lactic acid builds up, in greater or lesser quantities depending on the intensity of the exercise. This is what causes the burning sensation in your muscles – when you lift something heavy, for example. In anaerobic exercise, energy is drawn from glycogen rather than oxygen. The burning of glycogen, known as glycolysis, is what produces lactic acid as a by-product. Lactic acid acts as a biomarker for when muscles undergo moderate stress, in which microfiber damage occurs. This damage is then repaired during rest by inflammatory cells called cytokines, which bind muscle fibers together, making them stronger and more able to cope with increased stress. A lack of muscular conditioning leads to muscular atrophy, where muscles shrink. This makes the body physically weaker, and less able to function. 

Also read: Physical activities for a healthy aging process

Joints & Flexibility

Stiffening of the joints also occurs due to a lack of exercise, or a lack of stretching before or after exercise. This can lead to inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, or spinal disorders which, according to, can lead to spondylolisthesis, sciatica and osteoarthrosis. Regular stretching of the ligaments, and especially regular movement of the upper and lower vertebrae through activities like Pilates and yoga goes a long way in preventing these kinds of health complications. 

Prevention Before Reaction

At the end of the day, if the goal is to protect healthcare systems from becoming overrun, then it stands to reason that the most logical course of action is to avoid having to seek medical treatment in the first place by looking after one’s body.