Many people want to be active and healthy but have no idea what to do, how much to do and where to begin. People of all shapes, sizes and activity level can benefit from adding some form of physical activity daily and believe it or not it does not have to involve seeing the inside of a gym.
Any form of movement of the body that uses energy is considered activity. This can be broken down into three main groups, flexibility, aerobic and strengthening. Ideally your activity plan should include some of each, every week.
Here are just some of the benefits of exercise if you need the motivation to get started.
• Increases your chance of living longer
• Helps you look good
• Helps you get around better
• Decreases stress and Anxiety
• Improves cognitive ability
• Helps with sleep
• Decreases high cholesterol and improves blood pressure
If you are generally inactive and don’t know where to start, remember to start slowly. Allow the body to get used to small changes over a few weeks and keep progressing till you reach your target activity level. Too much too quickly is likely to cause stiffness, pain and inflammation and you are less likely to keep at it. Start at a comfortable level and add a little more as you go along, if there is something holding you back from being active, make sure to make it fun to overcome this hurdle. Get friends and family involved people you enjoy being around are likely to make the activity more fun and keep you doing it.
If you are always busy and struggle to find the time, try doing ten minute intervals as these bits of time are easier to fit into your schedule. Try do this at the same time daily if possible as it forms a habit and you are less likely to skip. Remember, every little bit adds up and variety keeps it from being monotonous.
Once you are doing some regular physical activity you can further improve the benefits by doing more, remembering to gradually increase and not all at once. This can be done by increasing the duration (do it for longer), frequency (how often you do it) or intensity (the difficulty).
The National Institution for Health (NIH) recommend a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate physical activity for example brisk walking or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous activity eg jogging or skipping. Try once you have achieved this minimum level to keep increasing it to double that as more exercise does confer more benefit however remember that rest is important too.
Muscle strengthening activities are just as important as aerobic ones giving strength to the muscles that support joints, improving movement ability, increasing bone density and aiding sleep. You should aim to do this form of exercise at least twice a week and aim to do activities that work all the body parts. There are numerous ways to do this ranging from doing press-ups at home to gardening and going to the gym. Use what you have available to you.
Physically active people who are fit have less chance of injury than their unfit counterparts while the benefits from being active are far greater than the chances of getting hurt. Just remember to do your activity in a safe manor using the appropriate safety equipment and the right technique. If you have a health problem check with your doctor what is suitable for you and use this to guide you, making sure to choose activity levels appropriate for your fitness level.
#TIPS for success
• Set small achievable goals for each day and week
• Add variety to prevent it becoming monotonous
• Make it fun
• Join a group
• Do small amounts frequently
• Track your progress