Exercise is any activity that can improve your health and fitness. It can be gentle, moderate or vigorous. However, even when you are not intentionally exercising, it is still good to make a conscious effort to move around as much as possible. For example, even though light housework such as dusting and light gardening isn’t particularly strenuous for most people and they won’t have a huge impact on your fitness levels, the fact that you are moving your arms and legs and you are stretching and squatting is better than doing nothing at all.
It has been said that if exercise were a pill it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs invented! Exercise can improve health and lower the risk of heart attack, stroke & type 2 diabetes and also lower the chances of vascular dementia. It can help lower some cancer risks and risk of osteoarthritis. It can boost your respiratory system. It helps lower bad cholesterol (ldl cholesterol) and lower blood pressure. Additionally, it can help you to get control of your body rather than your body controlling you. It can boost your self-esteem, lower stress and depression. However, if you have existing health problems it is important to check with your GP before undertaking exercise – they will be able to recommend which type and how much exercise is possible for you.
Aerobic or cardiovascular ‘fitness’ refers to endurance in walking, running, climbing uphill, swimming etc. and it relates to how well your cardiovascular system – in particular your heart and lungs – work to transport oxygen to the rest of your body including muscles.
The better your aerobic fitness the stronger and more efficient your heart is. In emergency situations i.e. running from danger, it is your aerobic fitness that will come into play because the fitter you are the longer you can endure an activity like running or swimming.
Increasing activity can help to increase body metabolism which produces energy from foods we eat which we use for essential daily functions. The following are some practical tips to improve metabolism whether working or limited to the home:
If at work, walk to a colleague’s desk rather than emailing or phoning
Take the stairs rather than a lift
Walk on the spot/do stretches regularly
Where possible, walk or use a bike to get to your destination or get off a bus one stop early
If driving, park at a distance and walk to work or when shopping park further away
Stand-up when on the phone
Start a lunchtime walking/running club with colleagues or split up lunchtime to incorporate some walking
Aim to move around and walk every day. Build up slowly until you reach your goals
Wear a pedometer and constantly set yourself new goals, setting a target of 10,000 steps per day
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