The overwhelming consensus is that we should all be physically active and that exercise is essential if you want to live a long and healthy life. Want to know how good being active can be for your health then read on…
It has been medically proven that people who perform physical activity regularly are significantly less likely to develop a number of serious health conditions (illustrated below) including heart disease, dementia and certain types of cancer.
Other physical health benefits include:
- Improved sleep and increased energy
- Improved ability to perform daily activities
- Better memory and concentration
- Helps you to manage your weight
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- Social benefits
- Improved flexibility, strength and stamina
- Improved balance and a reduced risk of falls
- Improved immune system
*If you’ve been feeling down for more than two weeks, see your GP to discuss your symptoms. They can tell you about the treatments available and what might be the best option for you.
If you have depression, motivation and energy levels might make it difficult to be more active, but if you persist, you are likely to see the benefits. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym if you don’t want to. Instead find something that you enjoy that you will be able to fit into your life and sustain – for example, gardening, dancing or a walk in the park – every little helps.
We all know we should stay active, but how much is enough and what level of activity is appropriate? The guidelines differ slightly depending on your age, but everyone is advised to do some physical activity every day. This should include aerobic and strengthening exercises (see below).
For adults: At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (i.e. cycling, brisk walking or pushing a lawn mower) every week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (i.e. running, a game of singles tennis or using a skipping rope) and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (arms, legs, back, abdomen and chest). If you are over 65 you should also include balancing exercises twice a week (such as yoga, Tai Chi or dancing) as this will reduce your risk of falls.
It is important to build up slowly and allow your body time to get used to the new activity levels. Pushing things too hard or too fast will tend to result in discomfort which will demoralise you and make it more difficult to persist.
It is perfectly normal to feel a little sore or uncomfortable after exercise, especially if it is something you haven’t done for a while, but this does tend to lessen with time.
You are more likely to keep your new activity up, if you start off with something that you enjoy and can do regularly, or if you exercise with others, who offer you encouragement and support.
You can take part in a team sport, attend classes at a leisure centre, or just be more active in your daily routine by walking or cycling instead of travelling by car or public transport.
If you have been inspired to become more active but want more advice on how to get started or if an injury is stopping you, your Osteopath may be able to help.