There is ample evidence to show that your body needs regular exercise to stay fit and healthy. Just like you need to floss and brush to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Just like you need food and water to survive. So, why is it so difficult to incorporate half-an-hour or an hour of exercise in our daily routine?
We all have our own excuses and reasons. Mostly, well intentioned people just find it difficult to set aside that kind of time to exercise. There are just too many other things to do in life like work and taking care of the family. I have been through that process myself. As I get older I find more time to go for a walk and do fairly regular exercise. Each evening I plan my next day to fit in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise time in my schedule. Most days I am able to keep my commitment.
How much exercise do we need each day?
It all depends what you are trying to achieve. Are you exercising for your heart? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you exercising to stay fit and healthy and maintain your good health? Are you exercising to find mental peace and happiness?
A study from Scotland has shown that a mere 20 minutes of physical activity a week can provide you with mental health benefit. The study also found that more physical activity in the week provided more benefits for mental health. But this is not enough for cardiovascular fitness, for losing weight and it is not enough to lessen your risks for a multitude of diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression and premature death.
The study found that 150 minutes a week (two and a half hours) of a moderate exercise such as walking and 75 minutes per week (an hour and 15 minutes) of activity like easy jogging provides good health benefits. It is also important to remember that people who are the least active to start with get the most health benefit from starting to exercise. It has been estimated that people who are physically active for approximately seven hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.
If you are trying to lose weight then you have to remember the good old dictum: eat less and spend more calories. There is nothing like a perfect weight loss diet and there is nothing like a perfect exercise to lose weight. You have to find a program which meets with your needs. For that you have to speak to somebody who specialises in this area.
The type and amount of exercise required to be fit and healthy depends on your age, your health and your current state of physical fitness. There are three types of exercises: aerobic, weight lifting (resistance training) and stretching. A good exercise program should benefit all three aspects of fitness: stamina, flexibility and strength.
Aerobic exercise such as swimming, brisk walking, running, bicycling involves continuous activity. It increases endurance and helps body use oxygen more effectively. It makes the lungs, heart and muscles strong. It is good for cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic exercise should be combined with weight lifting and stretching. This helps improve muscle strength and flexibility. These exercises also help endurance and balance.
To retain muscle mass and strength, you should do resistance training for 20 minutes three times a week. Harvard runners study has shown that men who trained with weights for 30 minutes or more per week cut their risk of heart disease by 23 percent.
Whatever you do, make sure it is safe and you are having fun! Do it before you floss and brush your teeth – early morning, lunch hour or in the evening. Make it part of your daily routine.
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