During the last twenty-five years, exercise has gone through some very interesting changes. Women have gone from hanging their laundry as their only form of exercise to doing three thousand leg lifts a day to rid themselves of unsightly thighs” (Anderson, 2000). Music, fashions and music videos encouraged the exercise scene primarily for women. Exercise theories always intrigued people. Exercise and fitness sections at bookstores take up one of the biggest categories. Of 100 late night info commercials, about 95 of those are selling exercise devices. Exercise topics are on everyone’s list of favorite discussions.

Advantages and reasons for acquiring outstanding exercise habits are infinite. Athletic performance, improved physical health, delayed aging, cosmetic reasons, employment for some people are only a few of the benefits of regular exercising. An accurate measure of physical fitness or effective exercise program is Body Mass Index AKA BMI. Exercise and the Body Mass Index BMI, Body Mass Index is a number derived from a persons height and weight to measure the difference between the body’s lean muscle mass and body fat. To determine BMI, divide height by weight, divide height by 2. 54 , then divide that sum by 100. The higher your BMI, the more muscle you have lost, and the more your immunity is likely to be suppressed” (Ford, 1998). The more efficient the exercise, male or female, the lower their BMI. A healthy BMI for the average adult is under 25. A BMI under 20 does not necessarily indicate dangerously low weight. Fitness competitors and other super athletes have body fat levels 10% of below, during competition season. During off season, their body fat is about 15 or 16 percent. (Sometimes a low BMI does indicate a dangerous low weight, but that topic is not within the subject of this essay).


The lower the BMI, the more muscle mass in healthy individuals. Intense physical exercise allows muscle mass retention. The more developed persons muscles, the faster their metabolism. The main reason for a higher BMI, men and women, is due to excess water retention, not body fat. “Anyone wishing to lose or gain weight must be educated about the various ways the body weight can be changed. Body weight can be categorized as three basic forms; water, fat tissue, lean tissue. Water makes up a substantial portion of nearly all the tissues within the body” (Pfieffer, 1998).

BMI conclusions do not identify water weight from fat. Sugar causes weight gain, not fat. Today, many people eat sugar without realizing it. When men or women are exercising, but not sweating, they are retaining water. Water retention greatly slows down exercise capacity, especially in humid sun. Their body is not cooling enough to allow high intensity exercises. Weight training is not the only way to increase lean muscle mass. “Weight training does not typically expend as many calories as aerobics, but it helps increase muscle mass” (Bachele, 1998). Gymnast have defined muscles with very low body fat.

They never lift a dumbbell. They follow no special diets. Force of gravity provides progressive overload for gymnasts. Correct detailed stretching directly targets muscles. Strength and muscle definition comes from proper stretching with the correct alignment, not lifting. As with most superior athletes, gymnast maxes out nearly every muscle in their body. Their exercise routines work muscles from all angles. Their routines involve cardio, resistance, speed, flexibility. That is the only way to achieve a low BMI. “ Media Encourages Women’s Fitness; Implying Men are Generally More Active;

In the development of music videos, around the late 70’s, political encouragement for women to begin exercising grew. Fitness clubs that were once exclusive to men opened up a women’s only area. The first ever Ms. Olympia, Rachel McLish complained that women did not have workout facilities that were equaled to men. Music videos encouraged the fitness revolution among women. Singing stars were wearing glamourus, trend setting fashions “Many people who’s body weight does not predispose them to health problems are still weight conscious, primarily for cosmetic reasons.

Their goals is to achieve a body shape and size that meets society’s standards of perfection, generated by fashion and advertising industries” (Edlin, 1999). . Female and male singers worked very hard to maintain a high fitness level. Their success largely depended on their clothing styles. In the late 70’s, the fitness craze involving women was popularized. Weight in proportion to height does not necessarily mean a person is physically fit. There are plenty people having very low physical fitness levels who are not overweight. Fitness is also measured by flexibility, strength, endurance. Thin does not necessarily mean excellent fitness.

Gender Does not Decide Healthy Exercise Habits; Gender does not determine the probability, intensity or frequency of ones choice of exercise habits. There are just as many women exercising as there are men. Individual decision to engage in a fitness lifestyle largely depends on his or her priorities and personal interests. Most of these priorities were developed in their past. A physically fit female who can withstand uncomfortable temperatures may be used to going outside running every morning. A sedentary male who spends lots of time indoors will be unlikely to have a regular exercise routine. When men and women are compared on the same task, men seem better able to work in the heat; the difference is due to fitness, not gender” (Sharkey, 1997). Most adults who have healthy exercise habits came from an athletic background. Strict discipline from competitive athletics teaches exercise techniques that stay with a person for a lifetime. Jane Fonda’s signature, “Go for the Burn” is the mind set producing the most effective results. Any workout within the comfort zone is a waste of time, if exercising for increased fitness. Former athletes know the intensity required to achieve results from exercise.

Forty eight year old Madonna’s exercise routine of pilates and yoga all during the day, in addition to aerobic exercise at least an hour a day is not unusual to people who make a daily habit of effective exercising. Women May be at a Disadvantage by Nature; It is a well known fact that women naturally have higher body fat levels. Higher body fat levels are necessary for healthy pregnancies and childbirth. The higher the body fat, the more limitations on work capacity. This explains why it is so hard for an obese person to lose weight. Food has very little to do with body weight.

Proper foods increase athletic performance or the ability to exercise at higher intensities. Most obese people have never learned to workout or exercise to their fullest capacity. The first thing a fitness professional will advise to an overweight client is to take it slow. Taking it slow is the last thing a sedentary person needs to be encouraged to do. They are in the physical shape they are in because they have been taking it easy. That is not what they are paying for. Dietary choices is the other factor preventing people from exercising to their fullest capacity.