Exercise can develop muscle and bone strength, increase joint flexibility, prevent or treat injuries, reduce the risk of disease such as Osteoporosis and Diabetes, improve health, manage body mass, control your mood, help you sleep better and give you more energy. A lack of activity can be detrimental to your health.
When we talk about activity, we refer to 2 types; activities of daily living (ADLs), and specific exercise. Activities of daily living are the activities we do each day as a consequence of our lives; such as self care, work, housecleaning, washing the car, etc. These can vary from low intensity to very strenuous, and as they use calories, they are an important part of your daily activity levels. We also need to perform specific exercise each day though. This is time specifically for you to work out, and these are separate to ADLs. This can involve a range of activities and should include an aerobic, strength and flexibility component.
The current evidence for levels of activity levels for an adult population to promote or maintain healthy living are:
Aerobic activity: Moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity for a minimum of 30 mins, five days each week; or vigorous-intensity activity for a minimum of 20 mins, three days each week. This refers to walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, kayaking, bushwalking etc.
Muscle strengthening activity: Strength training should be performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week. This should include 8-10 different exercises incorporating the major muscle groups, and 10-15 reps should be performed on each exercise. The level of effort should be moderate to high. Strength training can involve machines, free weights and resistance bands.
Flexibility activity: Flexibility training should be performed once a week to maintain muscle length and three-five times a week to increase muscle flexibility. A general stretching routine should include all large muscle groups. Specific flexibility training should follow all aerobic and strength training, targeting the muscles that were used. Stretches should be held for 15-30 seconds and repeated 3-5 times.
Intensity can be measured on a 10 point scale – where lying down/sitting is 0 and maximal effort is 10. Moderate activity refers to 5-6/10. This would produce an increase in breathing and heart rate. Vigorous activity is a 7-8/10 and would produce a dramatic increase in breathing and heart rate.
These recommendations are minimum levels of activity required for health benefits and separate to your ADLs.
If you are interested in getting started in an exercise program to suit your specific needs or goals , please contact Hills St Advanced Rehabilitation & Exercise Centre on (02) 4323 2421 and speak to our tertiary qualified Exercise Physiologist, Natalie Gale, about how to get started. We offer a range of programs and will design an exercise program that is individualised. Don’t forget, the recommendations are for minimum levels of physical activity, so if you aren’t doing enough you might just need that extra support to get you started on your path to a healthier life.
The next newsletter will deal with the specific exercise programs we offer. Please stay tuned for more information about Hills St Advanced Rehabilitation & Exercise Centre.