Exercise & Sports: Its Impact on Total Health!

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” — Plato (427–347 BC)

Exercise is the most abused modality, especially in the fitness industry. While most look at it as a calorie-burning tool, which is an insult to the array of benefits that exercise can offer. Even within the medical fraternity, very little is known about the physiological effect of exercise and its use as an alternative to modern medicine.

‘Exercise is Medicine’ is a recent advance where exercise is used as medicine to treat medical disorders especially the lifestyle disorders like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Like any other medicine, exercise has to be prescribed by a qualified Exercise Medicine specialist.

  • Exercise as Therapy

Exercise is as effective as modern medicines, if not more, minus the side-effects. It can be used as a therapy to treat medical conditions like sarcopenic obesity (normal weight but increased fat percentage), where the addition of resistance training (lifting weights) improves body composition and hence reduces the risk of mortality.

  • Exercise in Prevention

Primary prevention is the prevention of the development of disease before it manifests as signs and symptoms. Exercise reverses the risk-factors and lowers the incidence of disease. For example, lower HDL-C (high-density cholesterol) is a risk factor for heart disease. The addition of exercise improves the HDL-C levels thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. From the above, it is very clear that exercise can be used both for the prevention and treatment of medical conditions. Even if it doesn’t treat, it doesn’t harm, in the right doses. And what’s better it that improves the quality of life and helps you live longer.

Sports are an extension of exercise to infuse a competitive spirit into the game, which not only provides health benefits but also brings society together. With the organizations like FIFA, the highest governing body for soccer promoting ‘Football for Health’, especially in third world countries like Africa, it not just addresses their health but showcases the power of solidarity of sport to improve society.

“Doctor, how many times a day should I exercise to be healthy?”, is a very common question posed to me by health and fitness aspirants. The answer, however, is not that simple.

There are a few basic principles to exercise prescription: FITT Principle!


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes for 5 days) of moderate-intensity or 100 minutes (20 minutes for 5 days) of vigorous-intensity exercise accumulated over a week to maintain cardiovascular health. However, exercising daily with adequate recovery has additional health benefits.


A moderate-intensity exercise is where a person who is exercising can maintain a near-normal conversation throughout the exercise, without feeling out of breath. However, a normal conversation during a vigorous-intensity exercise is not quite possible.


The duration of exercise is dependent on the intensity of exercise, the lower the intensity, the longer the duration of exercise for the same benefits. For example, a sprint is a high-intensity activity that cannot be sustained for a longer period of time.


The type of activity depends on the goals of the aspirant. Resistance training (lifting weights) helps in improving body composition (building muscle and lowering fat) while aerobic activities (like running, cycling, etc.) helps in improving the endurance (stamina) to sustain a longer duration of the exercise. A mix of both is a general recommendation for health. 

Disclaimer: A medical clearance from a qualified Doctor is mandatory prior to beginning an exercise program. Although exercise has health benefits, it also increases the risk of sudden cardiac death in individuals who have diagnosed or undiagnosed medical conditions.

Dr. Bharath Kumar B is the Founder and Director of Kinesis Sports Clinic, a signature sports clinic located in Bangalore, which provides athlete-centric services to enable the athletes to bring laurels to the country at the Olympics.

He is also the founder of the MediFit Clinic, another signature clinic that provides an ecosystem for ‘medical weight loss and reversal of metabolic disorders’ through nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle. 

He is an alumnus of Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, known as the ‘Mecca of Indian Sports’. He has worked with the elite athletes of the country and has been a consultant to Sports Authority of India and Sports Authority of Karnataka.

He has also extended his services as a Doping Control Officer to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and International Cricket Council (ICC) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) and other international matches.

He practices Sports Medicine, Exercise Medicine, and Nutritional Medicine.

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