01 August 2014 by Neil Boston
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer recommends adults aged 19-64 should take part in moderate physical activity totalling 150 minutes every week; this could include brisk walking or cycling, housework and gardening. Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running, swimming or squash is recommended. There’s also the option to mix moderate and vigorous activities to achieve your target. In addition on 2 days every week, some physical activity to improve strength should be done. This can include everyday tasks such as carrying shopping. Finally, long periods of sedentary activity should be avoided. In this blog, we will reveal the effect physical activity has on your health, how it could help you to live longer and make less use of medicines.
There are many examples of exercise being as effective as taking medication. In particular for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Exercise is known to reduce the risk of you becoming ill from conditions including prostate cancer, breast cancer, dementia and strokes and can also improve your general mood.
Activities and exercises for you:
Here are some ideas for exercising which could help you stay well, more active and fitter for longer:
Pilates exercises will help you with chronic joint and back pain and also strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way towards preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with Pilates, these exercises can benefit men too. Pilates also encourages a stronger core, correct movement and improves posture. What are you waiting for?
2. Brisk walking
Walking is simple, yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, reduce cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood and lower your risk for conditions including diabetes and heart disease. A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can improve memory and resist age-related memory loss and it’s such an easy thing to do. Start with walking for about 10-15 minutes at a time. Over time you can start to walk further and faster until you’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.
3. T’ai Chi
T’ai Chi is a Chinese martial art that incorporates movement and relaxation, so it’s good for both body and mind. It has been called “meditation in motion.” Tai Chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, each transitioning smoothly into the next. T’ai Chi is accessible and valuable for people of all ages and fitness levels. In particular it is good for older people because balance is such an important component of fitness and balance is something we lose as we get older unless we work to maintain it.
4. Water sports
Swimming has been called the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. It’s good for individuals with arthritis. Swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Aquarobics is another option and like swimming, these classes help you burn calories and tone up.
5. Strength training
If you believe that strength training is an activity for body image obsessed young men and women, think again. Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will maintain their strength. If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time. Muscle also helps burn calories, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so the bonus is that it’s easier to maintain your weight. There’s also evidence that strength training might also help preserve your ability to remember!
Yoga is an ancient technique; it can improve health and wellbeing. It is a full body exercise and uses pretty much every muscle in the body. By integrating, movement, poses (Asanas), breathing techniques and focused awareness, it results in inner strength and calm. Asanas can be held for quite long periods.
7. Work, fun and exercise
Many of the things we do for fun and for work count as exercise. These include gardening, cleaning your house, cycling to work, using the stairs and walking your dog all of which count as physical activity; as do dancing and playing with children. Keep yourself moving for at least 150 minutes a week and include two days of strength maintenance activities a week, such as carrying your shopping and you can consider yourself an active person.
Whilst medicines are available to help us, there’s a growing body of scientific research that movement can make you healthier and happier so that resorting to medicines is required less often.