For normal healthy people, the general recommendation is for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Regular aerobic activity, such as walking, bicycling or swimming, can help you live longer and healthier. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more.
You do not need to do all the exercises in one session. For example, if you can’t fit in one session of a 30-minute walk, try doing three 10-minute walks instead. The most important objective is to make regular physical activity part of your lifestyle. Start at your own pace and gradually increase the pace and duration as your fitness level improves. Try to avoid long periods of sitting.
Most people give up after a short period of time because of the lack of motivation. These are some tips to improve your compliance by making exercise less boring.
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- Walk with friends or family. Having a companion means you have someone to chat with and this reduces the boredom of exercising alone. Make exercising a social activity
- Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and pace of your walk
- Take a dog for a walk. Pets are great walking companions
- Listen to music or podcasts. When you are enjoying the audio entertainment, exercise become effortless
- Take the stairs instead of the lift while at work
- Try alternative form of exercise such as cycling, line-dancing, throwing a Frisbee or swimming. Do the activities involving movement which you enjoy
An average person walks around 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day (around 1.5 to 2km). Try to aim for 10,000 steps which can help maintain a good level of fitness in your body. WHO recommends that anyone regardless of age should do moderate exercise between 150 to 300 minutes per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
How does your body respond to exercise?
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Exercise involves movements of large muscles in your arms, legs and hips which causes you to breathe faster and more deeply to increase the amount of oxygen in your blood. In response, your heart will beat faster to pump more blood to your muscles where oxygen will be delivered and waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid are removed. The more you exercise, the more efficient this process becomes and your stamina will improve.
How does exercise improve your health?
- Combined with a healthy diet plan, exercise helps you lose weight and maintain your ideal weight
- Regular exercise increases your endurance (stamina) as the muscle becomes more efficient in extracting oxygen from your blood
- Exercise keeps muscles strong and prevent wasting (atrophy) which helps maintain mobility as you get older. Weight-bearing exercises such as skipping or running reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Astronauts suffer from osteoporosis after being in space due to the lack of exercise.
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- Exercise increases your immunity so that you are less vulnerable to viral illnesses such as flu and the common cold
- Exercise reduces the risk of many conditions such as cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stroke. If you are already on treatment for these diseases, exercise helps you to control the condition better
- Exercise strengthens your heart as it makes your heart pump faster and more efficiently
- Exercise keeps your arteries clear by preventing narrowing due to cholesterol plaque thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and strokes
- Aerobic exercise boosts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the ‘good’ cholesterol, and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the ‘bad’ cholesterol
- Progressive balance exercises are beneficial for people who have balancing problems
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- Exercise improves the mood such as depression by releasing neurotransmitters such as endorphins. It can also relax the muscles associated with neck, shoulder and back tightness caused by stress or anxiety
- Exercise helps your mind stay sharp by protecting memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) in older adults. It also reduces the risk of degenerative brains diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease
Physical Activity Guidelines America 2015-2020
1) Moderate-intensity physical activity:
Aerobic activity that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing to some extent. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, moderate-intensity activity is usually a 5 or 6 on a 0 to 10 scale. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on a level terrain.
2) Vigorous-intensity physical activity:
Aerobic activity that greatly increases a person’s heart rate and breathing. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, vigorous-intensity activity is usually a 7 or 8 on a 0 to 10 scale. Examples include jogging, singles tennis, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill.
3) Muscle-strengthening activity:
Physical activity, including exercise that increases skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance, and mass. Examples include strength training, resistance training, and muscular strength and endurance exercises. Do single set of exercises enough to tire your muscles which should be around between 12-15 repetitions.
4) Bone-strengthening activity:
Physical activity that produces an impact or tension force on bones, which promotes bone growth and strength. Examples include running, jumping rope, and lifting weights.