Australian fitness guidelines - how much exercise should you be doing?
Isolation can either be a time to be more sedentary or you can really ramp up your physical activity! You are the master of your destiny and can draw on this opportunistic time to find new and innovative ways to work out. Many people are turning to apps and virtual training in a bid to keep moving during this time, whilst others are getting outdoors and hitting the trails in the beautiful autumn weather. Whatever you choose, something is better than nothing!
It is well publicised that being physically active has monumental health benefits. It reduces the risk of many health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, musculoskeletal problems, some cancers and unhealthy weight gain. Lets look further into how exercise helps different facets of our lives:
Weight management; in order to maintain a healthy weight, we need to balance the calories we consume with the calories we burn. It we eat more calories than we burn, we will gain weight and conversely, if we burn more than we eat, we will lose weight. Carrying extra weight puts added stress on the body, especially the bones and joints of the legs. Kids and teens who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes and other health problems, whilst overweight adults have a higher chance of getting heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease: Some studies have reported that being sedentary can increase your risk of heart disease by 52 percent for men and 28 percent for women! Regular exercise can help control blood pressure and cholesterol, both which are risk factors for heart disease.
Type 2 diabetes: People with type II diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, either because their bodies don't produce enough insulin or they have become resistant to it. Usually we require insulin to enable glucose to enter our cells (it acts as a 'gate keeper' to allow glucose to cross the cell membrane). During exercise however - we don't need insulin. Glucose is able to enter our cells without it, meaning we can naturally lower our blood sugar.
Some cancers: Research shows that adults who participate in greater amounts of physical activity have reduced risks of developing cancers of the following:
Colon (proximal and distal)
Stomach (cardia and non-cardia adenocarcinoma)
Strengthens bones and muscles: Research shows that doing aerobic, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening physical activity at a moderately intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Regular physical activity also helps with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions affecting the joints. Muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength.
Increases your chance on living longer: People who are physically active for about 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are physically inactive. That's significant!
Exercise has immediate effects on the brain including more alertness and improved concentration. It also causes the release of endorphins which are our 'feel good' hormones. This can help regulate mood, cope with stress and increase energy levels.
So what are our exercise guidelines?
Here is what the Department of Health has set for Aussies in relation to physical activity and sedentary behaviour:
Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
One of the positives to come out of social distancing is that we can try things at home that we wouldn't normally! Don't like yoga? Why not give it a try? Been wanting to try dancing? Dance until your hearts content in the comfort of your living room! Been self-conscious about attending a group fitness class? Download an app or try our zoom classes and give it a go! No one can see you and you can start to build strength and then be more confident to attend face to face training when we return. Use this as a time to set yourself a goal. Big or small, choose something that is attainable and break it down so that you can make it happen. You may come out of this stronger and fitter than ever! Go on, I dare you!