Exercise, as we all know, is essential, but getting started can really seem like a challenge. Sure, we've all heard how leading an active lifestyle is the key to reducing stress, increasing energy and strengthening our hearts and lungs. But somehow, we still need motivation.
The good news is you may be more active than you think. That's because many of the things you do during an average busy day are as valuable as the activities traditionally considered as "exercise."
If you're not currently exercising, it might be surprisingly easy to get started – simply by kicking your daily activities up a notch or two. Remember, any activity is better than none at all.
There are three different types of activities required to keep your body healthy:
- Endurance activities for your heart, lungs and circulatory system
- Flexibility exercises for mobility
- Strength activities to tone muscles and bones, improve your posture and help ward off diseases like osteoporosis
Build up slowly
Try and find a few activities from each category and do them regularly. But remember that you're not training for a marathon, so start with a warm up and low effort activities. As you get used to the effort, you'll be able to progress to a moderate or even vigorous pace. If you are not used to being active, it would be a good idea to check with your physician before you begin an exercise program.
How much activity do I need to get real benefits?
Ideally you should be active for a minimum of 30 minutes a day in moderate effort activities. If you're taking part in relatively light activities like walking or stretching or gardening, try to achieve 60 minutes. For moderate activities like biking, brisk walking, swimming, dancing or raking leaves, 30 to 60 minutes is terrific. And when you're up for a more vigorous workout like aerobics, jogging, hockey or basketball, 30 minutes is great to begin with.
Endurance activities (4 to 7 days a week)
Endurance activities include traditional exercises like walking, skating, swimming or tennis. But simple yard or garden work, dancing are endurance activities too. And you can add a few minutes of endurance activity to your day simply by getting off the bus one stop earlier, or parking further away from the mall entrance.
Looking at the different types of exercises, one may think that fitness centres is the best option. However, regular and natural exercise can be a better solution than fitness centres. Young people especially should not miss out on any opportunity to walk, even for a short distance, as they spend many hours a day at their school desks or in front of computer screens. It is recommended to try to walk, jog or include moderate regular exercises as much as possible in daily life.
Flexibility activities (4 to 7 days a week)
Flexibility exercises include any activity that involves gentle reaching, bending or stretching. You may be surprised how a little flexibility work each day helps you live longer and maintain your independence as you age. Good flexibility exercises include gardening, mopping the floor, washing the car or vacuuming the house. You could also take up yoga or Pilates, bowling or curling.
Strength activities (2 to 4 days a week)
Strength activities include the exercises in which your muscles work against some sort of resistance. They include walking while lifting objects like groceries, school books or even your baby, raking and carrying leaves, climbing stairs, and yard work. Getting off the elevator a floor or two early, or carrying your friends' books or groceries are easy ways to increase your strength activity. Strength exercises also include weight training or push-ups.
Truly healthy living is not only about what we eat, but also about how often we exercise and what activities we do other than high intensity physical activity.