By Hannah E. Whitcombe
According to the guidelines produced by the NHS, most adults should aim for about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) on a weekly basis and two additional strength training sessions working all major muscle groups.
Another suggestion is that we need to do at least 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, regardless of intensity level. Lower intensity exercises such as walking can bring about huge changes and benefits to a person’s health with a popular belief being that we need to take 10 000 steps per day, and though this certainly isn’t a bad idea, the number is not actually founded on any scientific basis and is more of a theory or suggestion than anything else.
What is classed a vigorous or high intensity activity?
• Jogging or running
• Fast swimming
• Team sports such as rugby or football
• High intensity interval training (HIIT)
• Martial Arts
• Lifting heavy weights
What counts as moderate aerobic exercise?
• Brisk walking
• Aqua aerobics
• Riding a bike
• Housework and gardening
What activities strengthen muscles?
• Carrying shopping
• Tai Chi
• Lifting weights
• Using resistance bands
• Body weight exercises such as planks, press-ups or sit-ups
What are the benefits of exercise?
• Weight management: in combination with a well-balanced diet, exercise will help you to burn fat and reduce excess weight. Just be careful not to overeat after a workout, as this is where many of us fall down. Exercise will make you feel hungrier than you actually are at first, leading to the consumption of excess calories and frustration with your weight loss efforts. Try recording your activity and food intake at first, until you get an internal sense of how to balance the two!
• Reduces the risk of heart disease: with heart disease still a leading cause of death in the UK, we all need to make efforts to improve our cardiovascular health. Moderate to high intensity exercise will help strengthen the heart and reduce the risk of fatty plaques that build up in the artery walls.
• Helps control blood sugar and insulin: diabetes type 2 and those considered to be pre-diabetic or insulin-resistant have the chance to reverse the condition with exercise alone! Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and helps rid the body of excess sugar circulating in the blood.
• Helps with smoking caseation: giving up smoking or any other substance is a huge accomplishment, but it may be challenging. So, why not take up a new activity or exercise regime to give yourself something to focus on and to celebrate the fact that your body is undergoing a massive healing process due to the removal of a toxic substance. It will also speed up the elimination of nicotine and lessen withdrawal symptoms. Research shows that those who involve themselves in a new fitness program, are more likely to succeed with their efforts to rid themselves of their addiction.
• Improves confidence and body image: the feel good factor after a workout will help you feel good about yourself. It may also help take the focus away from how your body looks and shift it to the appreciation of what your amazing body can do!
• Improves mental well-being: during a moderate to intense workout, the body releases certain feel-good chemicals called endorphins and this endorphin release during a work out is enough to get anyone hooked and coming back for more. Furthermore, exercise causes a boost in energy, giving you an elevated sense of motivation throughout the day, leading to increased productivity and a massive upshift in just about every area of your life!
• Improves sleep: there is nothing like a good night’s rest, just one of the many benefits that exercise provides.
• Boosts the immune system: those who exercise more regularly experience less frequent colds and reduce their risk of certain cancers, including colon, breast, uterine and lung.
• Strengthens bone and muscle: building strength and muscle will reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, which in turn reduces the risk of fracture. The extra strength and stability also contributes to better balance and reduces the risk and prevalence of falls.
• Increases longevity: studies show that those of us who are more active, may enjoy an extra ten years of life!! And with all the other health benefits that you will be enjoying, as mentioned above, you can enjoy those extra years in peak physical condition! What a reason to celebrate!!
How can I make exercise part of my routine?
• Make a schedule and stick to it: booking in classes or scheduling workouts with a trainer, will make it more likely to stick to the plan! Especially if you get charged for non-attendance. So, take some time to work out what you can realistically commit to, and stick to it! If you choose to work out at home by yourself, be specific and diarise your routines.
• Wake up 30 minutes earlier: research reveals that those who wake up early to exercise are more likely to make better health choices during the day. Further, it explains that after working out in the morning, people report greater levels of motivation and productivity throughout the day.
• Exercise with a friend or in a group: if like many, you struggle with motivation, make plans with a friend or find an activity involving a group.
• Buy workout gear that makes you feel good: how we look often affects the way we feel about ourselves, and feeling good before a workout will positively affect the effort you put in! In addition, if you have invested in good workout gear, you are more likely to stick to the plan so as not to waste your money.
• Start small: wherever you are, start from there! Make monthly or quarterly goals of where you want your fitness to be and make a plan to reach those goals with realistic small steps, remember that each journey begins with a single step!
• Eat well: it is important to fuel the body for the tasks you wish it to perform. There is a wealth of information about optimum nutrition available online, but if in doubt, consult a professional and have your diet assessed to ensure that it is in line with your individual goals, current health status and fitness level.
• Consult an Osteopath: before starting or increasing any exercise program, it is wise to consult a professional and or address any aches and pains that you may have been experiencing. Addressing such issues early will greatly reduce your risk of injury and help you get the most out of your workouts. Further, following a full postural examination and physical assessment, your osteopath will provide you with plenty of exercise, diet & lifestyle advice to get you started.
Osteopathy West London offer osteopathy, medical acupuncture and nutritional assessment to patients of all ages and backgrounds. if you’d like to speak to a member of our team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.