And where do I start?
Victoria Chambers – Osteopath
Ready for a hard truth? You have to exercise! You do. You have to. Yes, you!
Regardless of who you are, the benefits of physical activity have such a positive impact on every aspect of your life and health that you would be doing yourself a disservice not to do it. That’s the truth of it. Another truth is that exercise can be many different things. It doesn’t have to be a hard sweat session or a booty blast class which leaves you unable to lower yourself onto the toilet (but it can be if that’s right for you!). It doesn’t have to be yoga, running, swimming or pilates. There are no rules and a lot of options for every single one of us, from kids to seniors.
There are many reasons why people shy away from exercise; time, money, not finding something they enjoy, feeling overwhelmed by options or not knowing where to start. Many people also believe that they have to be sweating or it’s not worth the effort. Right now we have a unique opportunity to start getting into some better exercise habits with many people working from home (and therefore having more time) and many services moving online, making them convenient to try out.
There’s also a ton of advice out there, so we’ve broken it down into a few simple and easy to follow steps to creating your ideal exercise routine, no matter who you are and what your current fitness level.
But first, why you have to exercise
Let’s make this quick and punchy. There’s an enormous amount of research demonstrating all of the positive health benefits of exercise. I’ve read them for you and here’s the highlight reel of why you absolutely have to exercise:
1. Positive psychological effects
This isn’t just for those with mental health concerns. Exercise is shown to improve mood, memory and focus, decrease stress levels and those great exercise endorphins are proven to boost long-term happiness.
In addition to the above, there are positive effects for those suffering from conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders. In fact the best mental health effects kick in with only 45 minutes 3-5 times per week. That, at best is just over 2 hours per week and at worst is still 2 rest days per week
2. Reduces your risk of many chronic diseases
This is a big one. All the heavy hitters are here; stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Exercise helps to prevent, delay or reduce the risk of all of these big bad health problems. Even low impact physical activity is shown to cause effective changes in the cardiovascular system. It also contributes to boosts in immune function and is shown to improve lung health and function which is a big deal for the world we live in right now.
3. Collective positive effects of exercise reduces your relative risk of death by 20-35%
How is that for an amazing stat! This study assessed the difference in life expectancy for people living a largely sedentary lifestyle moving to the recommended minimums for physical activity for adults. So they essentially went from doing nothing much to the minimum exercise requirements and improved their life expectancy by 20%!
Here’s another stat: A study published in the Lancet back in 2011 found that 15 minutes per day of ‘brisk walking’ will improve life expectancy by 3 years. 3 years! For something which you can get done in under 20 minutes with no equipment!
4. Exercise improves sleep
If I had to pick one habit we could all do better (aside from exercise), it would be sleep. Sleep and exercise similarly have positive effects on health, reducing risks of major chronic conditions such as dementia, cardiovascular disease. Both additionally improve memory, productivity, focus and reduce the risk of brain disease such as Alzheimer’s. Sleep is something many of us have lost in this age of screens and sedentary lifestyles. Well guess what, exercise is shown to improve sleep quality, which means you get a two for one with the positive effects of exercise AND sleep!
5. You’ll feel better
I know this seems obvious if you read through what I’ve written above, but I really want to make this point because exercise can equal less pain, feeling happier, less stress, working better, sleeping better, less disease and just moving better. Less creaky joints, less tightness, fewer headaches, and so on. Just a happier and better quality of life. It’s a no brainer really.
Okay fine, I have to exercise, but where do I start?
There are broad categories of physical activity that are good for us all to be doing, but there are a heap of options of different types of activity within those groups. As a general rule we all need to be doing some kind of cardiovascular exercise which could be walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing, boxing, bouncing around or anything which increases your heart rate and makes you breathe a little harder. We also need some kind of strength work or resistance exercise which can be body weight exercise, weights, swimming, band-work, yoga, pilates, boxing and the list goes on.
You can start small. Maybe a mat pilates class and walking. Maybe a swim or boxing (both of those will tick both our major category boxes). Maybe a home work out with squats, lunges, push ups and star jumps. Maybe a dance class and a power yoga class.
And how much? The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. This means, 150 minutes of something that makes you moderately puffed or 75 minutes of something that gets you really puffed throughout the week. You need to do at least 10minutes at a time, which breaks down to about 22 minutes per day for moderate or 11 minutes if you want to get really puffed and get it over and done with. Additionally strength work should cover all major muscle groups in the week and at least twice per week.
If you’re still unsure of where to start, consult a health professional. At Beyond we often refer patients to our very clever exercise physiologists who will do an assessment to ascertain the best starting place for your fitness level and can make recommendations based on your goals. If you want to just get going for yourself, just use common sense and remember to build up slowly. Bodies like small incremental changes and if you go hard, you might end up pretty sore in a couple of day’s time.
A great place to begin is our very own Beyond Movement Hub which has an amazing range of classes ready to go. You can start with low impact pilates or get a bit more puffed with a HIIT class. And check our the Booty Blasters for some of that critical strength work.
As always, we’re here to help, so drop us a line if you have questions. We love guiding people in the right direction for their health. Our passion is helping people move through life!