How much exercise should you REALLY be doing?

We all lead busy lives these days and for most of us, there’s just no time to go to the local gym or take part in organised sports…particularly if families and children are involved!And for many people, the thought of any type of sport or sweaty training session is horrific!

If you’re looking to lose weight and get a bit fitter, then there’s a tendency to think about diets and calories before exercise. In fact the role of exercise is often misunderstood in the whole “keep fit and slim” process. After all, most of us probably feel we “rush about” enough to be able to tick the “Do you get enough exercise” box. So what’s the answer?

The British Heart Foundation recommends that to maintain their health, adults needs to take part in 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week – but evidence suggests that only 1 in 20 people actually meet this recommended level of activity (Ref 1 below).

What is “moderate intensity activity”? The best answer for this is brisk walking…walking that makes your breathing and heart rate increase a bit. Cycling or swimming would produce the same result. So if you walk the dog briskly every day for 20 minutes, then you will be exceeding the recommendation. If you take part in any team sport, or go to the gym regularly, or cycle/walk to work, then you are probably doing enough.

However, if you are one of those people who doesn’t get enough exercise (and apparently there is over 12 million people in this category), either because you perceive you don’t have time, or you hate the idea of gyms or sports, then you should not throw in the towel!

The first thing to realise is that exercise IS good for you and the really good news is that evidence (Ref 2) shows that the MOST significant health and clinical benefits are gained by an inactive person who is doing no physical activity starting to do even a little. The risk of a range of chronic conditions and associated financial costs are cut when this new activity is started, even if it falls short of the recommended guidelines.

What does this mean exactly? It means that if you currently do no exercise, you will gain the MOST benefit by just starting!

The second thing is to understand how good exercise is for you and how good it will make you feel! Keeping the body active will make it work more efficiently and will reduce the risk of a whole list of chronic illnesses and premature death. It will make you sleep better, reduce your stress levels and make you feel ALIVE. Ask anyone who does exercise and they will tell you its effects.

The third thing to grasp is that doing a bit of exercise won’t mean you’ll lose a load of weight! The human body has to do an enormous amount of work to burn off calories and, unless you are training for a marathon, a brisk walk won’t counter the calorie intake of a muffin and cappuccino! However, getting the body working more efficiently and more active, will help in the whole weight reduction process.

So what to do?

Once you have made up your mind to become more active (and, as we’ve seen, there are some very good reasons to do so), then you have to change little things in your life to allow this to happen. New In 90 tells you exactly how to do this on a daily basis via its app, but here are a few suggestions:

  1. Never sit still for more than an hour. Get up, walk around, do some exercises or stretches. And, when you ARE in a chair, sit up straight with your tummy tucked in.
  2. Take every opportunity to walk, and walk briskly. Even if you do only 10 mins per day, this will be a good step forward. Everyone can find 10 mins here and there…waiting for your child to come out of school, get off the bus one stop earlier, park the car further away from work or go out for a walk after dinner before settling down to watch TV. It may mean 10 mins less viewing time, but think of how good you’ll feel!
  3. Always take the stairs instead of a lift and always walk up escalators.
  4. Use every opportunity to do small exercises. Remember, every little helps. Use your “dead” time…whilst you are brushing your teeth, do it with your legs slightly bent; hold in your tummy and pull your shoulders back when you are standing in a queue; do some stretches or light exercises when watching TV…if you really analyse your day, you’ll find the time to do it!

And don’t forget that exercise and activity IS addictive. Once you start, you’ll find it not only becomes easier to do things that were hard to begin with, but you’ll start to MISS it if you can’t do it for any reason! And that’s when things start to get interesting!

Good luck!

The New In 90 team