Let’s get physical – what, when and how

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We’ve talked at length of the benefits of exercise. I talked, you listened. We laughed and then everyone put their Rebook High Tops on and went for a good old-fashioned power walk around the block.

You remember High Tops right? My dad had a pair and my sisters and I used to think they were hilarious. We could fit both our feet in them, they were outrageous! I miss 80’s exercise fads and active-wear. Olivia Newton John, wedgie lycra leotards, leg warmers, Sweathog trackies. It was all good in Jane Fonda’s hood.

But like all good fads, they come and go (more on that later). So exactly what type of exercise should we be doing and how often?

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The simple answer is anything is better than nothing! The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines were updated last year following a major review of the evidence.

So what are the guidelines?

  • Doing any physical activity is better than none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week (~ 30 – 60 minutes most days of the week). This is activity that takes some effort, but you’re still able to talk while doing it, like brisk walking,  dancing (even more reason to hit the d-floor), tennis, recreational swimming
  • OR 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. This is the stuff that makes you ‘huff and puff”. Most of your gym classes would fit in this category, like spin class, aerobics, jogging, and most sports
  • or an equivalent combination of both (eg: 3 x  30 minute walks a week and a gym class)
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.  Also called “resistance training”. You know like #helifts #shesquats #putthecameraaway. Anything that uses your muscles such as push ups, squats lunges, weights
  • Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible

Basically, move more, sit less, oh and 10 minutes of vigorous activity equals 20 minutes of moderate activity – bonus!

Why the focus on sedentary behaviour?

Sedentary behaviour is in it’s own right becoming a significant concern to health, with growing evidence that the negative effects of prolonged sitting may occur, even in those who meet the exercise guidelines. Many of us sit to much these days, with more screen time, desk-based jobs and easier ways to get from A to B.

It’s become so importantly recognised, that many workplaces now offer “sit-stand” desktops and “stand-up” meetings with adjustable table heights to accommodate. And people are encouraged to get up form their desk regularly. There are even treadmill workstations!

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Now we’ve talked about the what and how often, does it matter when and how? People often ask if a certain time of the day or type of exercise is better than another.

The simple answer is choose the time of day that suits you best.

If you’re more likely to exercise before work than after, choose the morning. As to what type, choose what you prefer and are more likely to keep doing. If you absolutely hate the idea of gyms, don’t go to the gym! If you prefer exercising with someone ask a friend or a work colleague.

Do things you like doing, are more likely to keep doing and do it more often.

It really is that simple.

There’s no one special exercise or piece of equipment that will be the answer. The shiniest equipment in the world won’t work if you don’t use it!

My well respected physiotherapist colleague can attest to this.  He’s been practicing longer than I’ve been alive. We were talking the other day about how diets, and exercise fads/equipment go in and out of fashion like cargo pants.

He regularly gets asked by clients his opinion on the latest piece of exercise equipment being broadcast on the shopping network. His response is always a question: “Does it fold up easily, and can it be stored under your bed?”

…cos that’s where it will end up.

In fact, as I sit here typing (with regular standing breaks of course), I’m looking at a well worn 80’s-esque exercise bike that has been dragged from our old house to our new place. It’s been used all of zero times. It’s now a garden ornament. I’m about to become one too if i sit here any longer. Time to get out and about! Stuck for ideas? Well warm up and click here….

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The common, low maintenance backyard plant species “exercises hibikeus”

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