Top Tips For Healthy Exercise!

Recently, I have heard a lot of people saying that since the lockdown restrictions came into force, they have not exercised as much as they were before and that they have noticed how much more heavy, lethargic, achy and weak they were feeling as a result.

Exercise is a crucial part of any self-care programme to maintain physical and mental wellbeing and it is widely known that without regular exercise our health declines. Pretty much everyone knows that.

But what type of exercise should we be doing and how much?

Some of the common reasons I hear why people don’t start exercising or can’t maintain their exercise programmes is that they feel it is too difficult or too painful or too arduous and not fun. Exercise can be seen as a bit of a chore or job we have to do rather than something fun and enjoyable.

There is certainly a belief out there in the fitness industry and beyond that exercise has to be super strenuous or intense to be effective. This unfortunately can have the effect of putting people off starting an exercise programme.

However research suggests that we may get the same health benefits from exercise whether we exercise moderately or intensely, particularly if it is combined with other lifestyle changes such as making changes to our diet.*

So exercise does not have to be super intense or stressful or difficult to be effective for our health. In fact over-intense exercise can also lead to more injuries, something I noticed when I was an elite athlete in my youth and something I have also seen in treating many athletes as a physiotherapist over the years.

Unfortunately there is often the yo-yo effect of people signing up to 6 week intense exercise programs and then giving up because they feel too tired or achy or even injured from the exercise program.

I would say from my own experience and from observing my patients, that effectiveness of exercise programs is more to do with consistency rather than intensity, so find an exercise program that works for you, even if it simply to go for a 20 minute walk every day. Find something manageable and doable and east to stick to rather than a one hit wonder.

The key is making a start and committing longer term to being active in some capacity as a lifestyle choice and a commitment to supporting your physical body to deal with life and all its demands. Just like a car battery goes flat if we don’t drive it for a while, our bodies can easily slip into decline and de-conditioning if we don’t maintain them which then can have a knock on effect to the rest of our life, including leading to injuries and illness and disease.

The second thing worth mentioning is that exercise does not have to be hard, complicated or painful to be effective. So many people give up on exercise or never make a start because frankly they know they are not going to enjoy it! What’s the point in that?

So another key thing is finding an type of exercise that you enjoy and that you are likely to look forward to doing. This will obviously be a person choice different for each person depending on lots of factors such as age, disabilities, pre-existing health conditions and starting fitness levels, but finding a form of exercise you actually like doing is key to maintaining it longer term.

Also as the research has indicated*, changing our exercise habits alone may not bring about lasting benefits to our health and that it should be seen as part of a bigger overall lifestyle self care package. The more parts of this lifestyle package we make changes to, the greater the benefit to our health and of course every part affects the other, for example if we reduce our stress levels then we will automatically want to eat better etc.

So why not start an exercise or fitness program today? If you need any advice or treatment to support your body with exercise or sport than give us a call or drop us an email. We cater for all ages and abilities and can support everyone to achieve their fitness and exercise goals.

* References: Walhin JP, Dixon NC, Betts JA, Thompson D. The impact of exercise intensity on whole body and adipose tissue metabolism during energy restriction in sedentary overweight men and postmenopausal women. Physiol Rep. 2016 Dec;4(24):e13026. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13026. PMID: 28039399; PMCID: PMC5210391.

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