27 Jun 2016, 12:05 pm
Define “Enough Exercise” (Issue 63)
The small script at the bottom of every diet and on every bottle of magic diet pills states the following: “Do enough exercise, else this will not work”. Admittedly perhaps not exactly in such harsh terms, but the bottom line is that you are almost always advised to do “enough” exercise. So how much is enough?
The amount of exercise you need depends on whether you want to lose weight, increase endurance, or reach other fitness milestones. So the real question is: "How much exercise is enough for what?”
Determine Your Goals
Decide whether you are exercising for physical fitness, weight control, or as a way of keeping your stress levels low. For general health benefits, a routine of daily walking may be sufficient.
If your goal is more specific (to lower your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular fitness, or lose weight) you'll need either more exercise or a higher intensity of exercise.
Two Types of Exercise
Everyone needs two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
Aerobic activity (cardiovascular exercise) involves repetitive use of the large muscles to temporarily increase heart rate and respiration. When repeated regularly, aerobic activity improves cardio-respiratory fitness.
MODERATE aerobic exercise includes such activities as brisk walking, hiking, swimming and even mowing the lawn. VIGOROUS aerobic exercise includes such activities as running, cycling and aerobic dancing.
When performing cardiovascular exercise, use the FITT principle (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type)
Muscle-strengthening activities are designed to work one or more muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)
Strength training can include use of weight machines or resistance bands; activities such as rock climbing or heavy gardening; and doing pushups.
How Much is Recommended?
Remember that we need to exercise according to our individual goals, i.e. general health benefits, weight control, or physical fitness. Know what you want to achieve!
For the average adult at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity - every day of the week - is required to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. From there, the amount of physical activity a person needs climbs, depending on his weight status.
As a general guideline, you need 30 minutes a day if you're a person of normal body weight and you just want the health benefits of being physically active, 60 minutes if you want to control your weight, and 90 minutes if you want to lose and sustain.
Let’s clarify that a little more: You need 30 minutes of physical activity daily to ward off chronic disease. To prevent unhealthy weight gain, you should spend 60 minutes on physical activity every day. Previously overweight people who have lost weight may need 60 to 90 minutes of exercise to keep the weight off.
Working in the Workouts
It might seem hard to fit the recommended amount of physical activity into a busy schedule, whether it is 30 minutes or 90. The good news is that you can do it in bits and pieces. The effects of exercise are cumulative - it doesn't have to be done all at once. It's like loose change in your pocket - it all adds up at the end of the day.
So you don't need to spend several hours at the gym every day. Just get your heart rate going! Whatever activity it is, you need to move your body to the point where you breathe faster or harder.
What if you miss a day?
Theoretically, you can't make up for lost time if you miss a day of exercise. But in reality, energy balance means that if you burn more calories on the other days, you will in a sense make up for it.
However, the biggest problem for most people, is getting out of the routine and giving up. So when you miss a day, don't try to pack more into your next workout. You might you feel so overwhelmed that you never want to exercise again. Rather squeeze some push-ups or sit-ups in at the end of the day, and get back into your routine on the next day.
Things to remember
Some suggestions to help you get active
A combination of dieting and exercise is more effective for weight loss than either exercising or dieting alone.
It's best to be active throughout the week, rather than concentrating all of your physical activity in one day.
Get your heart rate going 3-5 times a week, and work on all the major muscle groups at least twice a week.
The intensity of the activity counts. Ask yourself this question: “Are you working hard, or hardly working?”
That’s it for now folks. Remember to do “enough” exercise!
Physical activity doesn't always mean “exercise”. Find things you enjoy and fit them into your daily schedule.
Make it a group event. Your local PARKRUN is ideal for that, and during the week you can team up with a friend or two. (You will soon find yourself participating in other events as well!)
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Regular physical activity adds up over the course of the day.
Find new things to do. It will help with motivation.
Build a network of support. People are more likely to succeed with adopting increased physical activity if they build good social support around the activity. Post your progress on Facebook and you will be surprised at how much encouragement you will get!
Keep an exercise diary. It will encourage you to be active more regularly.
Start with 30 minutes. Meet that 30-minute guideline and see if there is a problem with weight management. Lots of people who are not meeting that 30-minute guideline and work up to it will find that their weight will stabilize or they may lose weight. From there, you can determine whether the 60- or 90-minute recommendation is right for you.