Before we get into specifics there are a few important foundational points I want to get clear!
- Active is better than sedentary! Just do something! Although there is a prescribed amount of recommended exercise and age specific goals, it is really important to understand that changing your life from a sedentary one to an active one is a great place to start! This means standing, walking and riding when you can instead of sitting or driving.
- Ongoing calorie burn. You burn more calories sitting than lying, standing than sitting, walking than sitting, running than walking and so on! Get moving!
- Exercise is both prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabtetes and high cholesterol. For details on that read the rest of our series!
- The benefits of exercise are independent of weight loss! Even if you aren’t losing the weight that you want to lose as yet you are still benefitting from exercising! Keep at it!
- The more you do, the better for you!
What type of exercise should you do?
You definitely want to have a combination of
- moderate and intense
- aerobic and resistance.
A simple sign of moderate exercise would be feeling the warmth/seeing the sweat, feeling your heart beating faster and breathing faster. If you have a smart watch or heart rate monitor you can usually program them such that you get into the moderate zone or fat burning zone.
The easiest sign of intense exercise is not being able to gossip! If you can still tell that story while you are exercising you are not in the intense zone. If you are doing intense exercise you should not be able to easily complete a sentence without stopping. On your heart rate moitor this would usually be cardio zone or intense. Exercise monitors take your weight and age into account to calculate these heart rate zones for you.
Aerobic exercise helps primarily with heart, blood vessel and lung health while resistance exercise helps primarily to build muscle and keep healthy bones and joints. These are all important to be healthy. If weight loss is your goal you need aerobic exercise to build your ability to do exercises of increasing intensity and you need resistance exercise because the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn. Aerobic exercise includes running, walking, cycling, swimming. Resistance exercise includes weights, yoga, pilates, swimming (falls in both categories!)
As much as you can!
- Children under 5- Let them play! They should be playing freely for at least 3 hours per day! Don’t have them sitting like you!
- Children over 5 to 18- As they get older encourage more focused exercise. 1 hour of focused exercise in the moderate category along with free play!
- 19-64 years- During these years you are expected to mix in intense activity with moderate. 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of intense activity or mix it up! You also want to mix aerobic with resistance; get in 2 days of resistance work per week.
- 65 and over- Still 150 minutes of moderate or 75 intense per week. Additional focus on balance and flexibility is needed. As you get older different activities may become moderate or intense exercise. For instance, gardening, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn are very good sources of exercise, the older you get.
- Injuries/disabilities- Just as for the old, there is always something that can be done. Swimming and/or water aerobics is an excellent form of exercise for those with injuries. If you can only do upper body or lower body or only walk or dance, just do what you can within your limitations!
Guidelines adapted from the NHS.
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