The Benefits and Guidelines of Physical Exercise
You have heard it a thousand times: Exercise is “beneficial for you”. But what is the quantity, frequency, and intensity of exercise? You are unsure if your daily steps equate to “enough” exercise? Without spoiling the article: it is not necessary to do an hour of gym every day to reap the benefits. Physical exercise provides immediate and long-term benefits to your body.
The Immediate and Long-Term Benefits
Here is what research says: A single exercise session that elevates your heart rate can lower blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and enhance insulin sensitivity on the day you do it. Other benefits, such as the reduction of the risk of many chronic diseases and cancers, begin to accumulate in the days or weeks following regular physical activity. Regular physical activity helps you stay healthy as you age and reduces the risk of fall-related injuries. For many people with chronic illnesses, it can reduce the risk of mortality from all causes and all diseases combined.
The Guidelines for Physical Activity
Sit less and move more. People who sit less and engage in moderate or vigorous physical activity, even in small amounts, derive certain health benefits. So, if the following guidelines do not seem achievable for now, start by sitting less. Some activity is preferable to no activity.
To achieve significant health benefits, aim for these figures: 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Want to do more than that? You will obtain even greater health benefits. Try to distribute this activity throughout the week.
Engage in strength training at least twice a week. Your bones, joints, and muscles help you climb stairs, carry children, and much more. Give some attention to your major muscle groups and work them out every week.
If you cannot meet these guidelines, be flexible. Older individuals, those with health problems, or disabilities should strive to meet these current guidelines for physical activity. However, if you cannot meet them all the time, it's okay. Engage in regular physical activity according to your abilities and avoid being inactive.
Incorporate balance activities as you age. Tai chi, yoga, and other balance activities can help prevent falls, especially when practiced alongside other types of activities each week.
If you are pregnant, stay active. 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity spread throughout the week is a good goal for most individuals during and after pregnancy. If you engaged in more intense exercise before pregnancy, you can continue after pregnancy.
Tips for Adding the Right Amount of Movement into Your Life
Differentiate between moderate and vigorous. During moderate activity, you breathe heavily and can hold a conversation, but you cannot sing. Vigorous means you cannot say more than two words without breathing. Remember, it takes twice as much moderate activity as vigorous activity to obtain the same benefits.
Find what motivates you. If the idea of reducing your risk of disease does not motivate you to get moving, you are not alone. Most people maintain a good habit because of the benefits they experience in their daily lives. Notice what motivates you: better sleep, lower stress levels, or the opportunity to exercise with a friend are just a few ideas.
Multitask. Incorporate movement into your regular activities. Watching your favorite show? Do stretches, sit-ups, or other activities between episodes or during commercials. Mix up your family routine and shoot a few baskets or take a walk around the neighborhood. Instead of automatically jumping in the car, hop on your bike or walk to work, the store, or a friend's house.
Listen to your body and take it slow. The risk of injury occurs when you try to do too much, too quickly. So, know your body: your current fitness level and past injuries. As you increase your activity level, do it gradually.
Do not neglect the little things. All the activity you engage in counts, even small ones.