Exercise For Health
Tips for getting active
- Set an hourly reminder to move
- Try to get your friends and family involved in a weekly challenge to reach a target
- Use a fitness tracker or an app or even write down your total minutes
- Don't try to go over your goal, you just need to hit the target regularly because our bodies
It may be
difficult to exercise regularly from home right now, but your weekly activity total can be
broken down into 10 minutes at a time. The target should be 150 minutes a week of a mix of
moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. This is advice from a 2008 report by the US
Department of Health and Human Services and has been adopted by the World Health Organisation and
advice from a 2007 report by the American College of Sports Medicine
For adults, the recommendation is:
150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise
or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity exercise
You can split your aerobic activity into 10 minute episodes
You can spread your activity episodes across the whole week
You should do muscle strengthening on 2 or more days of 8 to 10 exercises
Muscle strengthening days should not be consecutive
When working to increase strength, add a weight that allows you to do 8 to 12 repetitions
of that exercise
I completed a course called Exercise Prescription for Health (Trinity College, Dublin) which covered
the research into why exercise and activity is so good for you. As a sports massage therapist,
I treated many sports injuries from people pushing their bodies too hard. I am not advocating that we all
become marathon runners. I don't believe we are all the same, so you do not necessarily have a marathon in you,
despite the articles pushing people towards running. Running is fine, but it isn't suitable for everyone.
There are many ways to exercise. If you love running and you have no injuries holding you back, go for it.
When you discover an exercise you enjoy, it's a great feeling when you are able to do it.
I am not a fitness trainer. This article is for your information and may help you to understand
why there is so much of a push towards getting people active. I think sometimes because you don't
receive all the science info, you end up with simplified articles and messages that aren't clear
enough. We are all different and have different abilities. I hope the information here will help you,
if you want to be more active, or if you used to be but aren't now and the thought of getting active
at the level that news articles suggest, puts you off trying. My advice is to start slowly and build up.
It's the evidence-based way and it has worked for many people.
The science stuff you already know (probably)
Our bodies are made up of different systems that are supported by our organs. In order for our body's cells
to produce energy, they need nutrients and oxygen. Cells create carbon dioxide as a waste produce from
energy production. You breathe in air, your lungs take oxygen from the air and send it into the bloodstream to the
heart, which pumps the oxygen-containing blood to your cells to use for creating energy. When the cells
produce carbon dioxide, that goes back to the heart, which pumps it back to the lungs to be breathed out.
Your heart is a pump. It pumps blood out to your body, but for the deoxygenated blood to return, we don't have another pump.
The way this blood gets pushed back to the heart is from our muscles contracting and relaxing as we move. That's
why sometimes when you've done a lot of standing, walking or running, your legs may feel heavy and tired
and you may have been given the advice to lie with your legs raised. This position helps the blood
return to the heart using gravity. You shouldn't need to lie with your legs in the air
frequently, so you don't need to make a habit of this, unless you have circulatory problems and have
been advised to do so by a medical doctor or physiotherapist.
Did you know your heart pumps 5 litres of blood from each side of the heart every minute?
When you exercise, that 5 litres a minute isn't enough to match the needs of your body, so your heart
beats faster and you breathe heavily to circulate the blood around your body faster.
The clever way your body does this (without suddenly needing
extra blood) is to decrease blood flow to some of your organs (kidneys, digestive system) and
to give a big boost of circulation to the muscles that are working.
The automatic response in your body to exercise
Your brain becomes more focused and alert. Your endocrine system (hormones) increase the secretion of
endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline. Hormones are important for our metabolism and help to regulate
the fuels your body uses to create energy.
What happens to your body when you exercise regularly over time?
The type of exercise you do long term has different outcomes for your body. If you regularly do
aeobic exercise (the type that gets you out of breath), it improves your cardiac fitness, your muscle
health and weight management. Resistance exercise is the type that builds strength, like doing weights or using a resistance band,
and it helps you grow muscle and strengthens bones and joints. Then there's the type of exercise for
flexibility (yoga, pilates) that helps with general musculoskeletal health.
The benefits of exercising regularly in the right way (moderate to intense exercise, rather than always
light exercise), include helping your muscles and bones remain healthy, improving your quality of life,
extending your independence if you are elderly or disabled and there are benefits for your brain too.
Your mood can be improved (that's due in part to the increased endorphins), it can help reduce anxiety,
reduce depression in some people, improve your cognitive function and lower cognitive decline by
about 20 per cent.
What happens when you don't exercise and have a sedentary lifestyle?
There has been a lot of research on both active and sedentary lifestyles.
A 24 year study was done on female nurses. Those with less than an hour of activity
a week had a 52 per cent increase in death (from any cause), cardiovascular related
deaths doubled with a 29 per cent increase in death from cancer.
Regularly being physically active reduces your risk of
colon cancer by about 30 per cent; breast cancer by about 20-40 per cent; stroke by
about 25 per cent and it can reduce the risk of other cancers.
As hard as it is sometimes to get yourself moving, try to aim for a target of 150 minutes a
week so you are able to maintain good health. Remember that doing 10 minute sessions is
fine, so if you really can't do any exercise on one day, it isn't so bad. And if you aren't
always able to achieve 150 minutes a week but you mostly do, that's usually okay. Be kind to
yourself. Allow yourself to take it easy sometimes. Life is hard. Don't make it harder than it
needs to be. Find an activity or even more than one that you enjoy and do it and if it's not aerobic
or strength based, do some other exercises to add those in to your weekly target.
The Bodywork Studio used to be located on Upper Street,
Islington in London, but now support is online so I can be where you are.
For the video call, I am very flexible with hours. We can schedule it when it suits you. If you need to put your kids to bed first,
later in the evening is fine. If you are in a different time zone, we can arrange a time that works for you.
If you've paid for a week of support and scheduled a video call, but need to reschedule your call, please give me
as much notice as you can so I can offer the time to another client. If you have paid for a video call and you miss it
without giving me prior notice, I will try to provide whatever email support
I am able to for the rest of the seven days, but I may not be able to schedule a video call.