We all have different exercise regimes, schedules and programs, but in the end, as long as what you are doing is safe, sustainable and working for you, then keep it up!
The question I want you to ask yourself though is “why do I exercise”? Is it for stress management, weight management, cardiovascular benefit, the way it makes you feel or social interaction? Understanding why you exercise and what you enjoy about it, will ensure that you value this part of your day and keep doing it!
Whatever your personal motivation is for exercise, it is also important to understand the health benefits you are gaining. We are constantly told that we should be exercising regularly and we are bombarded with promotions for new gyms, new exercise regimes, active wear and workplace health programs but very few of us actually understand the importance of exercise, how often we should be exercising and how frequently.
How frequently should I exercise?
Adults are encouraged to exercise on most if not all days of the week. If you are new to exercise, start with something simple, don’t try to run a marathon in your first month, and increase your exercise duration and frequency slowly. This will limit the likelihood of you sustaining an injury and will assist you to create a regular exercise habit.
According to the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should be aiming to achieve 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, each week.
It is also recommended that adults engage in muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
Don’t forget rest and recovery are just as important as physical activity and consistency is the key.
At what intensity should I exercise?
Exercise intensity will vary for everyone depending on their goals and fitness levels. Ultimately it’s about knowing your limitations and that over time, as your fitness level improves, your capacity will increase. Moderate intensity equates to exercising at around 40-70% of your capacity while high intensity equates to approximately 70-85% of your capacity. Just ask yourself, “out of ten, how hard am I working right now”?
What type of exercise is best?
The best exercise is something that you enjoy, challenges you and makes you feel good. Aim to include a combination of moderate and high intensity exercise that challenges you physically and mentally and also allows you to escape the stress of daily life. The best exercise is exercise that you want to do!
Benefits of exercise
Exercise isn’t just about weight loss. This could be an added benefit, but it certainly is not the only benefit. We need to look beyond exercise as a form of weight management and realise that the healthier and fitter we are the more capable we are of managing the obstacles that life throws at us!
Regular exercise may:
- Reduce your risk of chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and hypertension
- Reduce your risk of heart attack
- Help you develop stronger muscles and bones
- Increase your metabolic rate
- Help you recover from periods of illness or injury
- Improve your state of mind
- Assist you to sleep
- Improve digestion
- Improve your mood and energy levels
The benefits of exercise go beyond your waistline!