Getting Active

by David Egan

Group of people doing yoga exercise

Being active keeps you fit and healthy – and helps you to take control of your weight!

Physical activity keeps you healthy. Being active helps you to control your weight, and according to the World Health Organisation it even reduces your risk for certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day – and kids need a full hour. To achieve this target, you don’t necessarily have to join a gym – you can be active as part of your daily life.

Of course, formal exercise sessions provide lots of health benefits – building strength & reducing the likelihood of falls, among other things. But we can improve our daily levels of activity relatively easily by just looking at our lives a bit differently.

How Active?

Very easy physical activity won’t do you much good. To be really beneficial, exercise should stress your body. Your body will respond to this stress by changing & becoming more healthy. Your heart will have a better blood supply, your muscles will work more efficiently and your bones will become stronger.

You should be aiming for at least a moderate level of physical activity. A good way to gauge how hard you are exercising is to see how easy it is to hold a conversation – aim to be working just hard enough so that talking is a bit difficult.

The good news here is that moderate exercise will cause your body to produce endorphins – natural “happy” chemicals – so when you finish your moderate exercise you’ll feel great!

How can we incorporate activity into daily life? Check out the following ideas:

Walk Yourself Fit!

Walking is a great way to be active – human beings are designed to do lots of walking. Plan ahead so that you walk more during your day:

  • Get off the bus or train a few stops early, and walk the rest of the way
  • Park the car a bit further from your destination and give yourself a free workout
  • Wear comfortable footwear – if necessary, bring a spare pair of shoes in your bag
  • Invest in a mini rucksack for work or shopping – keeps your hands free and lets you pick up the pace
  • You’ll work up a sweat whilst brisk walking, so wear multiple layers rather than one heavy coat, and strip off as necessary
  • Save the really vigorous walking for your trip home – and hop straight into the shower when you arrive
Walking is a great way to incorporate some exercise into your day. If I’m out of town and have to miss my usual exercise session, I always plan to walk during my day.

Take the Stairs!

Where possible, avoid escalators and lifts. Taking the stairs is a healthy alternative, and will help contribute to your daily physical activity target.

Cycling

Riding a bike is a great way to cover longer distances, and you’ll also beat the traffic. You might need to bring a change of clothes, or even grab a quick shower at your destination.

Housework

Vigorous housework can be a great way to get some physical activity into your day. You’ll also get the housework done in half the time!

  • Aim to work constantly, getting to the level where conversation is difficult
  • Put some music on and crank up the volume – this may help energise you and keep you working hard
  • Mopping, vacuuming, dusting and scrubbing are all good opportunities to be active

Gardening

Get out and dig the garden. You could even grow some healthy veggies! If you’re not used to gardening, start gently and with relatively short bursts. You’re aiming to stress your body – not damage it.

What to Expect

If you’re not used to exercise, remember to start with relatively short bursts of activity, gradually increasing the amount of exercise that you do. Remember that you are aiming to stress your body – so expect a bit of muscle soreness in the few days following a new activity. This is normal, and nothing to worry about.

If you do feel sore, don’t overdo the exercise while your body recovers – but don’t use muscle soreness as an excuse to give up exercising! As your body gets used to being active, your muscles won’t be sore after exercise.

Remember that when you’re active you will work up a sweat! As you become fitter, you’ll probably sweat more as your body becomes more efficient at keeping cool. So expect to sweat and plan ahead!

Summary

Being active in your daily life will keep you fit, help you avoid serious illness, help you to manage your weight, and should also improve your mood. What are you waiting for – get active!

If you’re in the Shannon area and need help with weight loss, find out more about our services: contact us or give us a call on 087 930 7575.

Photo by: Several seconds licensed under Creative Commons

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