The importance of sports
The favorable effects of sports upon human individuals, groups, health and, generally, upon man’s activities are already well-known and scientifically proved by many studies that describe the mechanisms through which the physical exercises influence the human body’s functions and systems. Regularly practiced physical activities lead to the improvement or maintenance of different tissues’ or organs’ structure (muscles, tendons, heart etc.); it also improves the functions and counteracts the damages that may appear due to the passiveness (sedentary life) and to getting older.
Benefic effects upon:
- the cardiovascular system – the blood quantity that can be pumped by the heart increases; it also gets increased in the veins and arteries; the blood gets more fluid and flows more easily (so, sport helps in cases of: arteriosclerosis, ischemic cardiopathy, high blood pressure);
- the pulmonary system – the lungs become more efficient in ventilating a greater air quantity per minute (helpful in chronic lung diseases);
- the skeletal muscle – its force, resistance and power are increased; getting older, the musculature “melts” more slowly (helpful in: lombopathy, bone fractures produced by old persons’ falling down);
- the adipose tissue – the total fat mass round the viscera decreases (helpful in obesity);
- the carbohydrates metabolism – increased muscle’s capacity of extracting the glucoses out of blood (helpful in diabetes);
- the fat metabolism - increased the muscle’s capacity of extracting the fat out of blood and using it for producing energy (helpful in arteriosclerosis);
- the defending function of the human body (immunity) – improved immunity system’s capacity of responding to a microbial aggression (helpful in infections);
- the digestive processes – improved intestinal transit, curing the constipation (helpful in colon cancer);
- the nervous system – improved speed of reaction and prompt answers to different stimuli (helpful in bone fractures produced by the old persons’ falling down);
- the cognitive functions – improved speed of reaction and prompt answers to different stimuli (helpful in bone fractures produced by the old persons’ falling down);
- the psycho-social behavior – improved self-image, professional efficiency and family behavior; good moods and the joy of being alive also appear (helpful in depression and anxiety).
The ancients were in a better shape than us
In spite of nowadays living conditions – nourishment, nutritional supplements, fitness conditions, and medicine – surprisingly, people are in a much worse health or physical state than the ancients were. This is an observation made by Dr. Harry Rossiter, a scientist in the sports physiology field at the Leeds University, England.
Dr. Rossiter made measurements upon the rate of some athletes’ metabolism that had to row a rebuilt Athenian trireme – an ancient war ship that was 37 m long and had 170 rowers, placed in three rows. Using portable metabolic analyzers, Dr. Rossiter measured the energetic consumption during rowing the trireme at different speeds, in order to find out the “human engine’s” efficiency.
Comparing his own results, which were published in the New Scientist Magazine, to the classical texts, which contained details regarding the resistance to physical efforts, Dr. Rossiter realized that (round 500 b.Ch.) the Athenian rowers could be considered elite athletes, even with the modern standards. “The ancient Greeks used to start their journeys with 200 triremes, each of them having 170 rowers aboard, so we can’t think of a small group of men with extraordinary physical performances”, said Dr. Harry Rossiter. “They had a more special and more efficient rowing technique, or they were all in an excellent shape, comparable to the shape of nowadays professional athletes. My studies show that the ancient athletes were genetically better adapted to the endurance effort than we are nowadays.”
Dr. Rossiter worked together with Professor Boris Rankov - from the London University, in order to read the data referring to the ancient rowers’ physical effort capacities. It is said about the rising from Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos Island, in the Aegean Sea. The Athenian leaders sent a trireme to this island in order to quash the rebellion and kill all men. The next day they decided this was a too drastic action, so they sent a second trireme to stop the massacre. In accordance to the writings, the second trireme should have spent less than 24 hours on its way, which supposed that the rowing had to be done in shifts, so that the ship would have traveled without any stops on its way. “Using these details, we could estimate the ship’s speed”, said Dr. Rossiter. “Then we used the rebuilt ship in order to measure the metabolic necessary of the “human engine”, so that they would catch the same speed. If the historians are right, then we should probably have problems nowadays in finding men in such a good shape, so that we could fill in a trireme with them and row at the same speed as in the ancient times.”
The triremes represented a huge technological progress, allowing the Athenians to dominate the seas. These ships had a strong keel, ending in a huge end piece, covered with bronze plates, which helped in hitting and making holes in the enemy ships – a new technique in the sea wars. The triremes had to reach a very high speed, so that the impact should be powerful enough; therefore they were built so that there could be embarked three more times rowers than in an older type of ship. Because the rowers were placed in three rows, the ship could have such a weight and length so that it was easier maneuverable.