By: Dr. Dobromir Petkov

Physical activity in all its form is part of being human since the beginning of time. In fact human species are designed to move – to fight or escape danger, to build a shelter, to gather food, and help others.

If you are active you survive. If you stop moving you decrease your chances of survival.

Movements of the human body are not just contractions of the cross striated muscles, activated and controlled by the Central Nervous System (CNS). They have a major impact on every system and tissue. They influence the whole human physiology. Throughout human history, when large groups of people were deprived of proper amounts of physical activity the results were devastating for public health.

During modern times so many advancements in technology are making human life easy and effortless. The lack of physical activity can be compared to smoking and other unhealthy habits and addictions. For this reason the need for physical activity is growing bigger and bigger.

The sedentary lifestyle combined with poor diet and high levels of stress are causing serious decline in the health status of large populations in many developed countries and the void created by these unnatural lifestyles is why GYMS are highly necessary today.

Little by little the spectrum of activities provided in gyms have grown immensely. There is something for everyone regardless of age, gender, culture, education, health status or fitness level. Gyms have become so popular we cannot imagine life today without them. The exercises performed in gyms have such a massive positive effect on the health status of regular gym-goers, that even science accepts it as an axioma (fact not requiring proving).

Resistance training, especially compound exercises (using more than one pair of joints) performed with free weight (no support or suspending of the weight) have a major impact not only on the muscle-skeletal system, but on the heart, kidney, liver, and gastro – intestinal tract function. It also immensely improves IMMUNITY, mood and performance of the CNS (Central Nervous System).

Resistance training with machines and pulleys can be useful in helping individuals with muscle-skeletal problems, problems with balance and problems in performing compound or isolation exercises. Using machines can also help elderly people and people with certain disabilities. ELDERLY PEOPLE probably benefit more than others from gym activities.

Exercises like running, cycling, tennis, climbing stairs (cardio -vascular exercises) are extremely beneficial for body weight regulation, improving the capacity of the cardio – vascular and respiratory systems. Performed in combination with resistance exercises the impact on the processes in the human body could be quadrupled. Many of these activities, could be performed outdoors, however there are many people with disabilities/elderly who could not risk going far from home, or simply the weather may not  always be favorable for a consistent fitness regimen.

Yoga and other agility activities could improve the stability and flexibility of the connective tissue around big and small articulations, improving the ability to perform daily tasks with less pain.

Swimming also improves the ability of the human body to move, with less resistance, when movement is too painful.  It also aids in improving the cardio – vascular health status of people with various limiting conditions and diseases.

With such a broad spectrum of activities, gyms in the 21st century are undeniably part of the way of life of the modern man and trying to limit access to them could be a major mistake with long term consequences for the health of vast groups of people.