Many people find exercise daunting. It seems like something that’s practically impossible to do regularly, if at all. In fact, many believe that if you don’t exercise all the time, then there’s no point in starting. It’s safe to say that most of us, however, do agree that exercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. This article breaks down the barriers to exercise and brings out the most important things you need to know.
Over the past few decades, our lives have become more and more sedentary. We seldom use stairs, bicycles or even our own legs in carrying out our day-to-day activities. We drive to work, use the elevator to get to the first floor, and even use intercoms to speak to our colleagues that sit in the next room! You may argue that the fast-paced, stressful lives that we live today leave us with no time to exercise. Ironically, in such circumstances exercise is exactly what we need!
Granted, you may not have the time to dedicate an hour each day to going to the gym, and hiring a personal trainer may not be something you can afford to do, but these shouldn’t be reasons to hold you back. Ease your way into a more active lifestyle by making small, manageable changes. Here are a few examples that will help get you moving:
- Park your car further away from where you’re used to, and aim to walk longer distances to the entrance of the mall or office.
- Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the elevator.
- Take frequent breaks from the TV or your computer and walk around the house/office for a few minutes.
- Do a few push ups, squats, lunges or sit-ups during the course of the day.
- Enjoy a few jumping jacks with your kids.
- When you’re listening to music, don’t be shy to dance! You’ll enjoy the song more while burning away those calories.
Exercise is important for numerous reasons, the most important being:
- It controls your weight through increasing energy expenditure.
- It fights off disease by improving your blood lipid profile (increases ‘good’ cholesterol). This lowers your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Improves your mood through the production of chemicals that make you more relaxed.
Varying the type of exercise you do is just as important as exercising itself. There are two types of exercises that you are recommended to carry out:
- Cardiovascular Exercises: This type of exercise raises your heart rate and, as the name implies, it improves cardiovascular health. Examples of this are running, jogging, skipping and swimming.
- Resistance Exercises: This type of exercise increases your lean muscle mass. Since lean muscle mass uses energy to function, by increasing your muscle mass you therefore increase your energy expenditure at rest. The best example of this is weight lifting. You don’t have to own a set of dumbbells for this – you can use two filled bottles of water instead, or some large sealed cans from your pantry.
It’s never too late to start being physically active. The general recommendation is to engage in 30 minutes of physical activity everyday. When you’re feeling really lazy, take a day off and relax but make sure you get back on track soon after. On a final note, remember that any activity is better than none at all!
To avoid injury or risk to your health, consult a qualified physician or health specialist before performing any exercise routine.