Create YOUR Life in Action: Rebecca Hallam Exercise Physiologist.
“Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley.
It’s all too common. The reasons I hear every day from clients with chronic health conditions as to why exercise is too hard for them. Its too hot, too cold, too wet. I have to do this for the kids, my work is too busy. The truth however, is that for many people exercise just isn’t high on the priority list.
The benefits of exercise have been known to various degrees since the time of Plato, Galen, Susruta and Hippocrates, the latter of whom said “Even when all is known, the care of a man is not yet complete…. Because eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health.” Despite this, and countless scientific studies in the hundreds of years since, exercise remains a hard sell, and the chronic disease burden on our society continues to grow.
So how much exercise is enough?
Current guidelines for 18-64 year olds suggest 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity per week. In simpler terms I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes per day most days of the week, with 2-3 sessions of resistance based activity per week.
Is doing any physical activity better than doing none?
Yes, essentially, if you do something no matter how small, you will be better off than if you are completely sedentary. However finding the optimal exercise prescription for the individual person will maximize their level of health and decrease both the risk factors for developing chronic conditions as well as supporting them to manage existing conditions with decreased requirements for or dosages of medication in the best cases.
What exactly does exercise do?
The benefits of exercise are many and varied, and we don’t believe that the full extent of the improvements have yet been measured or explained in physiological terms. Some of the cardiovascular benefits include an increase in exercise tolerance, reductions in body weight and blood pressure and improvements in cholesterol, insulin sensitivity and endothelial function, which refers to the lining of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.
In terms of musculoskeletal benefits we see an increase in bone density, synovial fluid production (oiling the joints) and muscle strength, along with improving the suppleness and strength of ligaments. Increases in proprioception assist in injury and falls prevention and increasing the lean muscle mass assists the body to burn fuel more effectively – contributing further towards the cardiometabolic benefits of exercising.
The physiological benefits only tell part of the story, with various psycho-social changes further enhancing the outcomes through improved mood, decreased stress and increased cognitive function. These factors contribute towards improvement in overall quality of life, whilst supporting people to better manage symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health presentations.
So if there is so much in favour of exercise, why don’t we do it?
Sometimes it feels easier not to. Many of us find it difficult to equate exercising now, with remaining healthy later. We all like to think that we will have more time to get to it later. For some the convenience of taking a pill is preferred to the blood sweat and tears that they anticipate exercise to be.
So how does Exercise Physiology come in to this? Accredited Exercise Physiologists are university trained professionals skilled in developing exercise programs to prevent, treat and manage all manner of chronic health conditions, injury, cancers and mental health. They conduct thorough assessments to develop programs specifically designed for the individual and support clients with setting and achieving their goals with programs that are enjoyable and sustainable for the long term.
How will you create your life in action? Start with something, timetable your exercise, find activities you enjoy and give it a go. If you’re worried about your health, or have an injury concern, then visit www.essa.org.au and search for your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist. For further information regarding the physical, psychological and financial benefits of exercise see the links below.
Physical Activity Guidelines: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#apaadult