For anyone wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, exercise is vital. Exercise doesn’t just make you fitter and help control weight, it also reduces the likelihood of developing a large number of life shortening conditions.
Regular exercise gives people a longer life expectancy as well as an improved standard of life. Lack of exercise has been shown to be nearly equal to smoking in reducing life expectancy.
Those who exercise regularly are likely to be happier. Exercise releases chemicals which affect the brain, making you happier and reducing the effects of stress. So it makes you emotionally and mentally healthier in addition to the physical aspects.
How can I find the time?
Lots of people regard exercising regularly as too time consuming or costly. In fact as little as thirty minutes of moderate activity a day has been shown to have big health benefits. There are forms of exercise which cost nothing and can be worked into any daily routine, so there is something for everyone.
What is exercise?
Exercise is anything that takes physical effort and tires the body. It can be split into different levels; light activity, moderate and intense.
Light exercise includes things like walking, housework, working in the garden and many others which aren’t always seen as exercise. With light exercise you should be able to talk whilst doing it.
Moderate activities include walking up stairs or a hill or simply walking at a fast pace. A moderate level of activity should wear you out slightly, but not overly so and should make you a little out of breath.
Intense exercise includes things like swimming, cycling, jogging and weights. It should make your breathing fast and be at a level where you are pushing your body’s limits but without going too far and risking injury.
The goal is to exercise at an intense level, however if you have not exercised recently then you should ask your doctor for advice on what is best to start with as they can assess your current fitness level and suggest appropriate activities for you to begin with. Jumping straight into an intense routine can end up doing more harm than good by risking injuries and putting excessive strain on the body. You should ideally begin at a light or moderate level and build up from there rather than rushing into things.
Exercising with a partner or group can be a good way to make the experience more enjoyable and keep up your motivation. Don’t let this make you push yourself too hard though, people have different fitness levels so what may be light activity for one person may be moderate or even intense for someone else, depending on their relative fitness. Go at your own pace, build your fitness levels gradually and you will find that the gap closes very quickly. Improving fitness levels at the very top end of physical ability takes far more work than lower down the scale, so even if you train with someone whose level is very different to yours it should not take long for your levels to become closer.
Remember as well that you don’t have to be in a gym to exercise. There are countless forms of exercise, all have their own effects on the body and individual points to recommend them. You can find out more about the some of the different forms of exercise and determine which is right for you in the section titled ‘Types of Exercise’.