September 4, 2017

Healthy movement and regular exercise on most days of the week is recommended by all heart, diabetes, cancer and medical organisations, as well as all preventive health professionals. We suggest that you make exercise one of your daily rituals. 

There is no better preventive medicine than regular exercise and it is helpful for lifelong weight control. Some of the health benefits of exercise include:

  • Improved cholesterol profile.
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Reduced risk of some cancers.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression.
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Helps maintain healthy muscles and joints, including improved joint range of motion and flexibility.
  • Improves strength and balance.
  • Improves libido.
  • Improves sleep.

Good shoes and comfortable exercise clothing, e.g. track pants or bike shorts and a T-shirt, can make exercise more comfortable.

If you have an agreement with another person to meet at a certain time, this will help make you accountable and help you make exercise a part of your daily routine.

Accumulating exercise makes it easier: the health benefits come from accumulated daily volume. Accumulate more by walking briskly, walking further, walking two or three times per day, or vary it by mixing walking, resistance exercise and sports. Three 20-minute sessions have the same effect as one 60-minute session, and they may have more benefit due to the idea of not having to ‘save yourself’ for the longer duration. It is easier to work harder for 20 minutes than it is for 60 minutes.

Consider exercising with a family member or neighbour, or simply walking your dog. An evening walk can be great to do with the whole family, and can help get the kids away from the TV!

There are three types of activity that you should consider:

  1. Resistance exercise

Resistance exercise is where the muscles push or pull against a resistance. In addition to the regular health benefits of exercise, resistance exercise:

  • Makes other activities easier.
  • Improves self-esteem.
  • Helps prevent weight regain by reducing the loss of ‘fat-burning’ lean body mass.
  • Delays the onset of ageing by maintaining physical function.
  • Protects against slowing of metabolism and may even boost metabolism and increase fat burning over each 24 hour period.
  • Improves blood sugar control.

As we age we also lose muscle tissue and gain fat. The scales don’t differentiate and only tell us our weight. This loss of muscle means a reduced metabolism which makes fat gain easier. And ladies don’t worry, the hormonal differences between the genders means that women cannot build big muscles. Your goal should be to minimise the loss of muscle as much as possible and this can be achieved at any age through the combination of resistance exercise and a well-planned diet.

  1. Planned aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is anything you do which elevates your heart rate and which you can continue doing for longer than a few minutes. Plan your aerobic exercise around your daily tasks and remember that you can accumulate exercise: you don’t need to set aside a long period of time. Enjoy activities such as cycling, dancing, jogging, exercise classes, rowing, swimming, sports and walking.

  1. Incidental activity

This is anything that adds extra movement to your life. Taking the stairs, tending a vegetable garden, parking further away, reducing the use of ‘labour-saving’ devices, and even fidgeting helps!

You can do this anytime, anywhere, as it all adds up. Look for opportunities every moment of every day of your life.

The strangest irony with exercise is that it takes energy to exercise, but everyone who exercises regularly says that it gives them more energy throughout the day.

You make your habits and then they make you. Set aside the time and just do it!