Exercise is essential for good health, but you have to make it work for you. Do something you enjoy and aim to do some form of exercise every other day – there really is no point in being unrealistically ambitious, or it just won’t happen. Exercise is guaranteed to make you feel refreshed and energized, and apart from the obvious benefits of feeling fitter, it will improve digestion and mental agility and keep you supple. Mix it up a bit too so you don’t get bored – pilates, walking, yoga – book up a course so you really will “commit to get fit”.
Here are some tips to help get you into that all important routine.
Exercise is vital for a healthy mind as much as a healthy body. More than just a way to burn calories, the boost it gives to endorphins, which are the body’s naturally occurring opiates, and other neurotransmitters improves your mood, reduces stress, gives you more energy and generally makes you feel better about yourself. It improves mental ability and metabolism as well as the more obvious physical improvements to body strength, cardiac health and muscle tone. It promotes better bowel health too. Weight bearing aerobic exercise like brisk walking can reverse a decline in bone density.
Physical inactivity is regarded as one of the root causes of poor health later in life. Levels of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and dementia are all proven to be lower in adults over 50 who take regular exercise, which is quite a lot of benefit for what only needs to be 30 minutes a day!
- deciding what to do and where, on the basis that time is usually at a premium or (if a gym is your preference) you may not live near a gym.
- the thought that there is something else you ought to be doing instead, which you can easily persuade yourself should take priority
The only sure fire way to commit is to set aside a specific regular time to exercise and factor it into your daily routine. First thing in the morning usually works best, before other distractions grab your attention and take over. Somehow leaving it to the end of the day means the right time never arrives.
Aerobic exercise needs to form the main part of your routine, but you don’t need to pound away in a gym. In fact if the idea of a gym does not appeal then don’t go down that route – if you don’t enjoy what or where you do it you will most likely give up.
To keep fit you need to do at least:
- 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise (ie: breaking sweat), 5 days a week or
- 20 minutes of intense cardio exercise (ie: breathless), 3 days a week
To help yourself commit:
- do some activities with a friend as you won’t want to let them down and will be motivated to keep up with them
- regard your exercise time as an appointment and write it in your diary
- vary what you do so you don’t get bored and your body doesn’t get comfortable in a repetitive routine , an exercise class like pilates, a home workout DVD for rainy days, a brisk walk with friends
- if you go to a gym book a regular assessment session to give you a target
- get a pedometer if you are walking and, starting at 4000 steps each day work up gradually . 10,000 steps will keep you fit, more will make you loose weight
- speed up doing things around the house like going up stairs