The reason we are advised by health professionals to exercise, is that those who exercise tend to be healthier, and less likely to develop a serious illness. It certainly isn't a case of 'the more exercise I do, the healthier I am', but about finding a balance; the optimal amount for you. Doing too much exercise is just as unhealthy as doing zero exercise. If you have a physical job, you're less likely to need to spend as much time focusing on how to fit exercise in to your day. If you sit on an office chair all day, you'll need to get smart on how to move more.
The recommendations for adults currently stand at 2.5 hours per week of 'moderate aerobic exercise', think jogging or a steady bike ride AND two strength training sessions that work your major muscle groups (squats, burpees, press-ups). This 2.5 hours is also advertised as 150 minutes or previously 5x30 minutes. Alternatively, 3x10 minutes each day of more 'vigorous' activity can make up your daily 30 minute dose. So, if you walk or ride to work and find time to do a bodyweight workout at home a couple of times each week, then top work!
Starting Exercise for the First-Time.
For those who are not part of a team sport or club, deciding what type of exercise to do can be tricky. Firstly, there's the case of fitting it in. Then you need to decide when to start. Only once you've started do you realise you have no idea what you're doing! This is the classic journey of the new gym-goer. So if this is you, or you're contemplating starting exercise, here are some things to consider:
Don't spend £100's on new kit. If you've got a pair of trainers, you're good to go.
Speak to friends and try to join them for a taster session.
Try a few things out to decide what you enjoy.
Once you know what you enjoy, try and spend 20 minutes doing that activity but break it into 4 blocks of 5 minutes. Between each block, rest for a minute. This might be a round of badminton, lengths of the pool or jogging.
Aim for 20 minutes, twice a week to begin with, working your way up to 3, then 4 over the space of a couple of months.
Appreciate that if you haven't previously exercised, or have taken more then 3 months off, you'll need to gradually increase the number of sessions you do each week. The number one reason for people skipping exercise is a new injury or illness from taking up exercise too quickly. Don't be a statistic!
Understand that exercise is not a substitute for leading an active a lifestyle. Walk every day. Try and commute to work. Stand wherever possible. Our environment is designed to make life as easy as possible. Unfortunately, easy doesn't equal healthy. Be smart and find ways to incorporate movement into daily activities.
I feel there are some key messages that should be offered to those looking to improve their quality of life through an increase in exercise (planned) and physical activity (lifestyle). Walking is an easily accessible, low-skill form of movement that we should all aim to do more of. The latest 'bare-minimum' figure is 7000 steps (45 minutes) each day, with 14,000 steps seeming to be optimal for health. Don't underestimate walking. When you're walking you're not sitting, so it's a double-whammy. Take the stairs wherever possible. Park in the first space you see in the supermarket and use a basket for an added upper-body workout. Get off the bus a stop early or even try walking your route once a week. Build physical activity into your life. It doesn't have to rule it, be time-consuming or unattainable. Look at your day; find little pockets to add some movement in. Find ways to make it fun. So the next time you say, 'I'm busy' or, 'I don't have the time', ask if you really need to spend 10 minutes on Instagram in the morning? Or could you do 10 minutes of exercise in your living room? In today's world, you have to make a conscious effort to move; it needs bumping up the priority list.
Exercise for weight-loss
First off, when we say weight-loss, we mean fat-loss. Not many people are trying to loose muscle mass. Exercise can aid fat-loss, however if you're sole aim is to loose fat you'll need to examine your eating-habits a little more closely. Many people have studied the effect of exercise on weight-loss. Some people would even have you believe you can eat all you want and, so long as you exercise enough, you'll loose weight! If you've tried this, I don't need to tell you this doesn't work. Your motivation to exercise should be from the standpoint of, 'I care about my health and I want to do something to look after myself '. We all know what the behaviours of slim, healthy people are. They do stuff. They eat good food. They're busy. They have fun. Want to join them? Just copy.