Why Should I Exercise?
I’m not bothered about having a 6 pack. I don’t like lycra. I’m not a kid, I’m old, so why should I exercise?
I was recently asked “Why do you do it? Why do you exercise like you do?”. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer it, because it’s always been a big part of my life that I thoroughly enjoy. I love being fit and healthy. And having spent a good length of time recently being very heavily pregnant and then slowly recovering, I can honestly say that I truly hate feeling unfit. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that pregnant women are unfit, absolutely not. But when I’m pregnant, I get hugely pregnant, massively, and it makes me feel slow and unfit. And I really don’t enjoy feeling like that. What I do enjoy, no, what I absolutely love, is feeling fit. Knowing that whatever physical challenges come my way, I can handle them, and most likely I will enjoy them.
Here’s what I should have said when asked why I exercise, or why should I exercise.
There are really quite amazing health benefits and more are being discovered all the time. Recent large scale studies have shown that regular exercise can:
- Reduce your risk of stroke by 25-30%.
- Lower the risk of cognitive decline by 20%.
- Reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce your risk of death by cardiovascular disease by 50%.
- Increased bone mineral density i.e. reduced risk of osteoporosis.
- Reduce your risk of developing colon cancer by 30%, breast cancer by 20-40% and endometrial cancer.
- Reduce the long term risk of hypertension.
What’s not to like in that list?
How Much Exercise?
These benefits all sound awesome, but how much exercise should you do? It’s the obvious next question. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer.
The evidence shows that in general more exercise is better and that any exercise is better than none. But the best exercise prescription is developed for each individual and considers their medical history, risk factors and preferences into account.
We know that higher intensity exercise is better than lower intensity, so if you can workout for 10 minutes at high intensity it’s better than low intensity exercise for 10 minutes.
If you need advice on a fitness plan please click here to contact me.
What Sort of Exercise Should I Do?
Regular aerobic exercise improves fitness, which is to say it increases your VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen you can use, or the amount of physical work you can do. Increasing your fitness will improve your cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems, in short, you’ll be able to work harder for longer.
Resistance training like weight lifting or using kettlebells will give you increased muscle size and strength and will strengthen bones and joints.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that for significant health benefits adults should maintain at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. They further recommend muscle strengthening on at least two days per week. Doing more exercise than these recommendations will provide additional benefits.
Exercise as a Prescription, A Last Quote
Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing major diseases. Should you develop a disease, it will help your recovery. There’s no downside to doing regular, safe exercise, but let me give the last word on exercise as a prescription to someone else. The UK Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Evans said “If there was one wonder drug, it would be exercise.” what more can I say!