I started studying the benefits of exercise in 1973… after 10 years of formal education and over 30 years of practice and ongoing study… here is what I believe is the most current, best advice for activity and health as we enter a New Year:
1. Regular activity is essential for good physical and mental health, the amount is hard to define but most days of the week you likely need 60-90 minutes of activity.
2. Low intensity activity like walking can make up most of that activity but there is evidence that a few times a week the intensity should be high enough to make you breathe heavily for 15-30 minutes, equivalent to running or walking steep inclines.
3. As we age, activity to keep muscles strong and flexible as well as activity to promote balance and agility is at least as important as cardiovascular exercise. Most days of the week you will benefit from even a few minutes of this type of activity.
4. Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight but weight management and weight loss is more a factor of good nutrition than anything else, for weight loss consult a professional dietitian.
5. Outside activity is another essential element to good physical and mental health, exercising outside as much as possible will pay big dividends.
6. Exercise is medicine, it helps reduce many chronic diseases… however that does not sustain motivation for most people… find activity that you enjoy and want to do for the activity’s sake and let all those other benefits flow in like a bonus cheque.
7. Don’t measure against others (except in a sporting sense). It is clear that we all have different likes, abilities and aptitudes that make our physical activity profile unique. Enjoy the socialization but have the courage to be the unique physical being you are designed to be.
8. Physical activity has a dose response… different amounts and intensities give different outcomes, this means variety will give the most well rounded outcomes. It also means that diminishing returns eventually happen as total volume increases and eventually physical activity levels can reach a point where they are detrimental. Dose response is specific to each individual and is unique to your genetic profile.
9. Sadly, a few individuals have severe diseases that limit their activity but before you play that card remember the amount of people who truly cannot find some activity to work around their challenges are exceedingly small and many people have shown they can beat those challenges and still enjoy activity on their terms.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and active 2019 my friends!!