Regular, routine exercise can have health and cognitive benefits beyond losing weight and improving cardiovascular health. A healthy diet and regular physical exercise are among the simplest ways to enhance your mental and physical health. Even a touch exercise can help to create a far better quality of life for you. So, this means that you don’t have to be fully dedicated to exercising like the athletes but by doing any regular exercise you can improve your health in many ways. There is a difference between exercising and exercising regularly. If you exercise your body at least half an hour a day then you can avoid many health-related problems.
Here are just some of the benefits that are derived from regular exercise:
- Assists in managing weight
- Increases stamina, strength, energy, and self-esteem
- Lowers your resting heart rate which means your heart is not working as hard when you are at rest. It will also assist in controlling hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Lowers your Body Mass Index (BMI) which is the ratio of body weight (in kilograms) to height (in meters).
- Reduces circulating levels of triglycerides and cholesterol
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer
- Enables you to look and feel younger
- Improves blood and lymph circulation which improves oxygen uptake and the elimination of carbon dioxide and waste
- Reduces stress, anxiety and sleeping difficulties
- Alleviates depression
- Boosts the immune system
- Provide protection from injury by increasing muscular strength and bone density
WHICH EXERCISE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
The types of exercise you choose to do will depend on your age, fitness level, and lifestyle. It is important to try to include some form of:
- strength training such as weights
- aerobic training such as brisk walking or running
- stretching – even if it’s just a few stretches during your warm-up and warm down.
- Whatever you choose, ensure that you begin with low impact (walking instead of running, walking through an aerobics class rather than jumping, etc.).
Cycling – Burns approximately 720 calories/hour
Cycling is one of the most enjoyable and effective workouts. Some of the benefits include:
- Improving strength, stamina, and cardiovascular fitness. Cycling helps to lower both blood pressure and the resting heart rate.
- Shedding those unwanted pounds. A cycle ride increases calorie consumption and raises the metabolic rate, which can help to lose weight.
- Improving balance and co-ordination.
- Promoting psychological well-being. Several studies have shown that exercise helps reduce stress, improves a general sense of well-being and improves mental capacities.
- It also benefits the environment by reducing NO2 emissions and noise when used as your primary source of transportation.
Health experts believe cycling provides one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise – as well as being convenient and exhilarating.
Jogging – Burns approximately 720 calories/hour
Like walking, jogging is flexible and can be done at the time that suits you and can be done solo or with partners. Studies indicate that regular joggers have an increased life expectancy of up to 7 years, up to 40% lower risk of developing heart disease, and up to 50% lower risk of developing Type II diabetes.
Swimming – Burns approximately 790 calories/hour
It’s hard to beat swimming when it comes to a sport that strengthens the body, soothes the mind, regulates breathing, stimulates circulation and reduces stress on the joints all in one. Unlike running or weight training, which concentrate on specific muscle groups, swimming benefits the upper body, torso, and legs together and is one of the fastest ways to improve general strength, stamina, and cardiovascular fitness.
Because swimming is a very low impact exercise, the stress on joints is virtually eliminated, contrary to the potential of the back, knee and other muscular injuries common in high impact activities. The water pressure against the legs and arms is also beneficial to the circulatory system, assisting in returning blood to the heart and lungs.
Swimming allows you the flexibility of exercising at your leisure – you can go to the beach or your local swimming pool. To begin a program, start by swimming a length of the pool and rest for 45 seconds. Repeat for a total of 20 minutes. Gradually increase to 2 lengths of the pool and less resting time. This is a particularly good form of exercise for pregnant and elderly women.
Weight Training – Burns approximately 215 calories/hour
All weight training should begin under the supervision of a qualified Personal Trainer to provide you with a work out that will meet your goals and ensure that you are performing exercises properly. If you have a joint or back problem, the trainer will be qualified to modify your program accordingly. Once you are confident working with weights, you may want to work out from home with your own weights and treadmill.
Benefits of weight training include:
- Toned muscles ( weight training will not give women large muscles)
- Raised basal metabolism which causes you to burn more calories even while you’re sleeping
- Strengthened bones which reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis
- Improved posture
- Improved cholesterol and blood glucose levels
Yoga – Although not much of a calorie burner, the benefits of yoga are numerous.
The literal translation for yoga means the connection between mind, spirit, and body. It is a system of exercises or poses (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayamas), and meditation used to attain bodily and mental control for well-being. Physiologically, it benefits the nervous and respiratory systems and is known to decrease the symptoms of numerous ailments including allergies, stress, depression, and anxiety. The psychology of yoga provides many techniques for resolving conflicts, adapting to change, exploring alternatives, and working things out in a calm, objective manner.
Yoga, although not a fat-burning exercise, boasts the following benefits:
- Increases flexibility, strength, energy and agility
- Improves posture and balance
- Assist in digestion and elimination
- Improves sleep
- Boosts the immune system
- Reduces stress and depression
- Improves concentration and memory
Duration, Intensity, Frequency
Start off slowly and gradually build up your activity level, particularly if you have been inactive for some time. Begin with a duration of 20 minutes of low-intensity exercises, such as a walk, with a frequency of 3 times a week. Gradually build on this until you reach a 45-minute walk 3-5 days a week. Then set yourself some new, realistic goals. You may want a professional trainer to design a fitness program and eating plan to match your needs and meet your goals. It is important to emphasize that trying to push yourself too hard, in the beginning, could lead to injury or exhaustion; both of which will cut your regime short.
Warm Up and Warm Down
Take at least 5 minutes before you exercise and 5 minutes afterward to stretch. Your muscles and joints need to warm up prior to exercise to reduce the risk of injury. The stretches you do after you exercise will help to alleviate muscles from cramping up.
Take your cues from your body
Listen to your body. If you feel faint, breathless or pain of any kind, stop what you are doing. Although it is good to challenge yourself, take care not to overdo it.
Drink Plenty of Water
You should be drinking 2 liters of water each day and more if it is particularly hot or if you are exerting yourself during exercise.
Wear appropriate clothing
Comfortable, loose clothing that won’t overheat your body is the best choice. Layer clothes on cooler days so you can take items off as you warm up and put them back on when you are cooling down.
Consult with your Health Care Practitioner
This is particularly important for women over 50 starting an exercise program, pregnant women or anyone with an existing condition.