You know in January we discussed how to fight the fad? Well this month we’re going to take a different angle on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The way we can do this is through EXERCISE.
Now, many of us might not like the word ‘exercise’ or ‘physical activity’ because it requires a load of effort, right? But actually, it might not be as difficult as you think to meet the daily recommendations! Great news eh!
So what are the guidelines?
To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active for at least 150 minutes each week. This might sound a lot, but actually if you divide down to the number of days/week, this equates to around 20 minutes/day! Not much, considering we can spend up to six hours watching a screen of some sort on a daily basis (guilty..)!
But what does being active actually mean?
When I say active, I mean activities that will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. This can include anything from fast walking/riding a bike to water aerobics or even helping mum or dad mow the lawn! These all count and as long as you can still talk, but not sing words to a song, you’re being moderately active! Try it for yourself!
Strength exercises are also good to do on two or more days per week. If you have access to a gym, you can lift weights (safely please!) or use resistance bands, but even without a gym, you can use your bodyweight as a way of strengthening your muscles! No need for fancy machines or memberships here! Push ups are a classic example, if you haven’t tried to do this before – here’s your challenge! Other examples of what counts can be found on the NHS website http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx#moderate
Why is exercise important?
It’s never been more important to talk about the benefits of exercise. Being active can lift our mood, improve self-esteem, enhance sleep (very important for you students!) and reduce the risk of chronic disease later in life. Summarised perfectly by Dr Nick Cavell below;
‘If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented.’
What if I have a particular goal?
For those of you already active and wanting to achieve a goal of some sort, whether it be running 5K or muscle building, it is really important to seek advice first! You’re not on your own, there are lots of qualified people with experience out there who can help. Believe me, if you have a goal, someone somewhere has jumped through the same hoops as you.
I am by no means an expert, but as an amateur runner training for the London Marathon, there are a few principles which have helped me whilst training which may help you too with your goal;
- Pace yourself – Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will you reach your goal after one training session. Be realistic and give yourself enough time to make marked changes!
- Fuel up – It is important that you are fuelled for a training session, whether you’re doing cardio or strength based training. Good examples of pre-exercise snacks include rice cakes with nut butter, avocado on toast or even just a banana and glass of milk!
- Enjoy it! By training for an exercise goal, you will subconsciously be getting fitter and learning new things about your body every day. Your body is an amazing machine and adapts quickly to its environment, so make sure you enjoy the journey!