Time to use it or lose it!
Why regular exercise is beneficial for you, and why you don’t necessarily require a personal trainer to build you the perfect programme!
We all have different exercise preferences, abilities and bodies, so it’s easy to appreciate why some people may feel a personalised exercise program is right for them. But rushing out to consult the experts isn’t required for everyone. Exercise Physiologist, Wellness Coach and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, Bell Silverthorne discusses why we all experience benefits from regular physical activity – regardless of age, shape or fitness. Bell also shares some tips on how to build your own tailored exercise programme!
Building cardiac fitness.
Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) measures how well your body takes in oxygen and delivers it to your muscles and organs during exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate, respiration and circulates oxygen and blood flow throughout the body. This could be exercise like walking, cycling, jogging, rowing, boxing; or playing organised sports like football, netball, basketball, hockey, etc. Don’t forget that more ‘casual’ activities like dancing, hiking, skipping or jumping on a trampoline can also get your heart rate up!
There are numerous physical and mental benefits of CRF including, assisting with weight management, mood improvement and lowering your blood pressure. Generally speaking, cardio exercise improves your overall fitness level and boosts your stamina.
Building and maintaining our muscle strength and endurance.
Muscular strength relates to your muscle’s ability to exert force. As the name suggests, muscle endurance is how long you can sustain an activity. Examples of exercises that build muscle strength and/or endurance include resistance training like Pilates, weightlifting, and bodyweight exercises such as push-ups or resistance band exercises. Cycling and climbing hills are also options, if you prefer a little fresh air while you exercise.
Having good muscular strength and endurance enhances general health. It helps you keep a healthy body weight by burning more calories at rest (yes, even while watching some Netflix) compared to those with lower muscular fitness and endurance. A strong body allows you to perform movements and activities that require power without tiring too quickly. Domestic activities like being strong enough to comfortably lift a fully loaded washing basket or remove a lid from a jar are perfect examples.
Building and maintain your muscle strength also helps with joint stability, balance and flexibility, making injuries and falls less likely.
Staying on your feet – the importance of balance training.
Balance training involves exercises that challenge your ability to keep still and stable. Bolstering coordination and the ability of your muscles to understand what they need to do to keep your joints operating well, without making them susceptible to injury, is one of the major benefits of balance training. Balance activities are important both in the prevention, as well as the treatment of muscular and joint injuries.
Activities that challenge your stability could include tai chi, yoga, bouncing on a trampoline, walking on a grass field (uneven ground) or hopping on one leg if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. Balance activities can be tailored to suit you. They can range from being very low impact on your body (think standing on one leg but holding onto a chair) up to high impact, like running drills sideways, backwards or zigzagging through cones.
You may not realise it, but balance training can use just about every muscle in your body. You don’t need expensive equipment to perform many of these movements and the exercises can be done anywhere and at any time.
Many of us know elderly and/or frail family and friends where a fall has really compromised their quality of life. Balance is often undervalued as a beneficial component of fitness, but it’s important regardless of your life stage.
Why not try and tailor your exercise regime yourself for best results?
Keeping the above types of activities in mind, boost your exercise benefit by:
- Listening to your body. If you know your wrists are in agony while doing ‘mountain climbers’, don’t keep pushing through! Opt for something else which still gives you strength benefits but without the pain.
- Carrying out physical activity you enjoy. If you like cycling, keep at it!
- Stick with timing which works for you. If you’re not a morning person, setting your alarm an hour earlier isn’t likely to yield sustainable behaviour change.
So when do I consult an expert?
There is, of course, a place and time for seeking some expert help. Seeing a qualified exercise physiologist or personal trainer can be great if:
- you have a complex medical history
- you’re not sure where to begin
- you would benefit from some extra accountability or motivation
- you require help with technique.
Like many things in life, our physical abilities remain a case of use it or lose it. Put differently, you need to keep doing it to reap the rewards. Go forth and get active!
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