You can’t outrun a bad diet” – true, but that doesn’t mean ruling exercise out completely.
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We’ve put together a list of some of the benefits of exercising as well as some guidelines to help you get started.
Exercise has been shown to be the most effective of all lifestyle changes in preventing disease. Regardless of your weight or your eating habits, just adding exercise to your life changes your risk profile completely. Adding in some exercise will kickstart your journey to a healthier you!
IT CAN BE EASY…
Or at least a lot easier than changing your diet. Your eating habits are complex and have developed over your entire lifetime. Changing your eating may take several steps over a prolonged period before it becomes a habit. Exercise isn’t half as complicated; it just needs to be done. When you get it right, it is a simple, single item to tick off your healthy living checklist each day.
IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD!
Exercise, although it can come with its own hurt, always makes you feel better afterwards. It gives you an instant sense of accomplishment that helps boost your diet motivation; and, bonus, it releases endorphins (happy chemicals) that make you feel great.
WHERE DO I START?
Exercise does not have to be about killing yourself on a treadmill. Pick something you love and do it at a pace you are comfortable with. This can be walking your dog, dancing, skipping, swimming or playing a sport.
As an indicator of difficulty:
- If you can both talk and sing while you do it, the exercise is light and probably too easy for you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start here – once you get used to exercising regularly, try and intensify your effort.
- If you can hold a conversation but can’t sing, the exercise is moderate. Moderate exercise is the perfect difficulty to aim for.
- If you can’t sing or talk the exercise is strenuous.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week – that’s just 30 minutes of exercise on 5 days per week! Pace yourself, you don’t have to get there all at once. Even 10 minutes of exercise per day has health benefits, and the benefits aren’t lost if you only manage to exercise on a few days of the week either.
Making exercise a part of your life is always the hardest part of exercising. We set lofty goals for ourselves, which we often struggle to meet. After a long day, getting active (especially when you aren’t exactly feeling fit) is often the last thing you feel like doing. With dinner still to prepare and responsibilities at home, it quickly becomes very tempting to put it off to tomorrow. To get over this, first focus on the goal of frequency. If you have set yourself a goal of 30 minutes on 5 days per week, this means first working on getting the 5 days per week down. If you reach a day where you just don’t feel like exercising at all, rather than putting it off to tomorrow, meet your goal by doing something, anything. Do a couple push-ups or a few jumping-jacks; get in just 5 minutes so you can say you did something!
Once you’ve reached your goal of exercising on your determined number of days per week, it becomes far easier to slowly increase towards your quantity goal. If you find you are only getting in 10 minutes each day, try increase to 15 minutes on alternate days, then 15 minutes every day, etc. Increase the number of minutes each time your previous mini-goal was met (reassessing your goals weekly is a great way to approach this). If you fail to meet your goal in one week, do not despair! Try reach the same goal for another week rather than moving to a “lower” goal.
Quality: The last step is to work on, is the quality of your exercise. This involves both ensuring that you are working at the optimal intensity (not singing, but talking); and that you are getting in a mixture of aerobic (exercise that makes you out of breath), anaerobic (muscle strengthening) and flexibility workouts.
For more guidance on types of exercises you can do, check out our Health Matters page here, for exercise videos, or visit exerciseismedicine.org for more information.
Good luck and happy exercising!
The Tony Ferguson Team