Physical activity, are you doing enough?
This week I cannot wait to discuss my favourite topic, (well apart from healthy food) and that is exercise.
Keeping active for me has been one of my favourite habits that I have carried forward from my childhood into my adult life. It has always made me feel energised and alive. I have worked out over the years what exercise works for me and what doesn't. I am not someone that is interested in pumping iron every night or training for a marathon, but exercise holds a special place in my life. Exercise just makes me feel so great!
After a stressful day, nothing is better than going for a run (or to a dance class) to sweat it out. By the time I return home my body has been flooded with endorphins and the stresses of the day have all but vanished. For me it’s certainly something I come back to again and again when I am in need of a boost. Living a very busy lifestyle, juggling work, raising my son and having a social life, it can be hard to schedule the time in to exercise. I have found that it is easy to do it in small bite size chunks throughout the day, with one or two longer sessions throughout the week.
The good news (from a scientific point of view) is that physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, stimulates the growth of brain cells and connections between them, and is associated with larger brain volume. It reduces the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, which are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. So in plain English – its just great for you! and what isn't there to love about that?
Here are a few of the tips below that I have implemented for myself.. Why not try out a few or let us know what works best in your life to ensure you get enough exercise in!
Before you start, make sure that you check with your GP if you need to take any other factors into account. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing conditions, or if you haven’t started exercising in a while.
- Do exercise early. I try to fit in a class or a good brisk walk really early, before I do anything else. I normally go for a 30 min high intensity class or a 15-30min brisk walk before anyone else gets up. It’s a great way to start the day energised and alert.
- Head for a walk at lunchtime. Even if it’s just a 5-10 minute walk, it is better than no walk at all. It wakes up your body if you have been sitting down all day. It doesn't matter how short it is, it all counts.
- Track how much you have done for the week. Whether that is writing it down, or on an app that allows you to enter your physical activity. It’s a good way to track how you are going and when you may have to step it up or slow down, to make sure you are getting enough. It’s also a great motivation tool to see your progress improve from week to week.
- Listen to your body. Your body knows you best, make sure you have adequate rest as well and don't forget to hydrate with water when you exercise.
- If you have kids, take them to the park or do a fun activity with them. I love jumping on the trampoline with my little boy, or playing kick to kick at the park. Kids have boundless energy, so it’s fun trying to be able to keep up with them.
- No time, no worries. If there is little time to have a break during your day, why not do a few flights of stairs? Enlist a colleague, family member or friend to do it with you, that way you can exercise together, and it’s a good social catch up (whilst trying to catch your breath).
- Lastly do something that is fun. If you enjoy it, you will stick to it! It makes it so much easier if you love the exercise you are participating in, and it’s easier to go back again and again (hopefully you will be having so much fun you may forget you are even exercising!) Perhaps it is a team sport or a dance class. Whatever it is you are doing you have to be enjoying it! My personal favourites are boxing, zumba and swinging a kettle bell. All heart pumping but fun as well!
Here is a quick recap on what the National Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour guidelines recommend we do:
For adults aged 18-64, the guidelines recommend:
- Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
- Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
You need to get into the habit of exercising and once you do you'll wonder why you waited so long. Exercise makes us feel good and is a great activity to enjoy with friends.
Why not get out there today!