Whether you’re looking at life through a weight-loss prism or you simply want to stay fit and keep your mind and body at its healthiest, then doing regular exercise is paramount.
Regular exercise is a key component for a better life and works best in unison with a healthy eating plan. The good news is you don’t have to slave away for hours each day at the gym or run a half-marathon to see results.
We don’t need to be perfect… we just need to get started – Monique McCreanor Australian Health and Fitness Coach
If you’ve never exercised before or it’s been a while, then be sure to check with your GP to get the “all clear” and then take baby steps. Too often we have jumped headfirst into an exercise regime only to find we’ve overdone it and we’re stiff and sore and don’t continue.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going – US Olympic track and field athlete and former politician James Ronald Ryun
You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll start to see a change in your fitness level and a boost in your mood just by starting out doing incidental walking. Things like taking the stairs instead of the lift and parking your car down one end of your shopping strip and walking up and back to do your chores will all mount up. Consistency is vital.
Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection – Mark Twain, US Writer
What’s the best exercise for you?
The simple answer; the best exercise for you is the one you’ll keep doing.
Try and find a variety of activities you enjoy and incorporate them into your lifestyle. These might vary depending on the season especially if you’re playing in a team sport.
Mine includes walking, and a little bit of boxing, golf and swimming but it has to be very hot for me to go in the water so it’s not an exercise I even factor into my fitness regime outside of summer.
I was never good at sport or gymnastics or any kind of the calisthenics, which were all compulsory when I went to school. I remember only too well how I was the laughing stock of everyone on the sideline as I managed to knock down every single hurdle in my futile attempt to jump over them during athletics. The humiliation continued when I’d have to go back to help set them all up again for the next race.
It never gets easier. You just get better at it – Jordan Hoechlin, South Korean TV and music producer/director
My lack of sporting prowess, combined with my knock-knees, fear of heights and no sense of balance meant I generally held the same position on most school team sports…Left Right Out.
That’s why I was delighted to discover how much I loved playing Golf. I’m not a fiercely competitive person so the only player I have to beat is me. I didn’t start playing until I was in my early forties and have had the chance to have a ‘hit and a giggle’ in lots of Corporate and Charity Golf Tournaments since.
I totally disagree with George Bernard Shaw’s description of golf as being ‘a good walk spoilt by a little white ball’.
Earning the golfing nickname of ‘Lightning’ was not because I’m fast and straight down the line but more aptly because I never strike twice in the same spot. From my perspective, I get lots more golf for my money than others thanks to the extra ‘practice shots’.
Golf is the ideal game for me as I’m not letting anyone else down if I don’t play well and I approach every hole like I do my life; if I botch it up then I try and learn from my mistakes and leave them behind and move onto the next hole with a fresh approach.
A healthy lifestyle is something we refine over time, not overnight – Dr Monique Tello, Harvard Medical School
How many calories can you burn?
Not only will you feel better, have more energy and hopefully add more years to your life when you exercise regularly; you will burn up even more of the calories you consume to help prevent weight gain or help maintain your size and shape.
Here is a link to an interesting action chart on the Mayo Clinic’s website which shows the amount of calories you can burn in one hour doing thirty-two different exercises and activities. If you prefer to work in kilojoules then multiply the calories on the chart by four.
The three columns display three different weights in pounds. 160 pounds equates to 72.5 kilograms. 200 pounds is around 90 kilograms and 240 pounds is about 109 kilos.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some. ― US Professor Courtney C. Stevens, author ‘The Lies About Truth’
Walking is my preferred method of regular exercise.
In fact, most of the 50 plus kilograms of body fat that I shed and wrote about in two of my books “Half My Size” and “Still Half My Size” can be attributed to regular power-walking.
It’s free, it’s easy and you can keep your own timetable and set your own pace. I try and have a purpose or a destination in mind and then I’m achieving another goal while doing my walk.
Have a purpose and you won’t need motivation – Anon
I’ve recently had lower back issues, followed by those lots of rainy days so I haven’t been walking for a little while and need to build up my fitness again. I started this week by walking on flat ground at my own pace and I track my journey on a fabulous free App called Map My Walk. There’s also one if you’re a bike rider, aptly named Map My Ride.
At the end of each walk I can check my progress and save all the data from Map My Walk, which shows me a map of where I’ve been and tells me how far I’ve walked, how long it took me, how many steps and my average pace, plus it shows my pace through all the elevations and how many calories I’ve burnt.
It’s a wonderful fitness tool that allows me to compare one walk to another and to see how much quicker I’ve walked over the same distance or how much further I’m walking over the same amount of time.
Listening to my radio through my hearing aids while I’m walking is a great mental distraction and seems to make the time go quicker.
As soon as I start feeling fitter again, I’ll begin to incorporate hills and stairs. This is known as interval training where you’re alternating periods of high and low intensity.
You can do interval training to spike your heart rate while walking on flat ground too by adding some sprints in-between your usual walking pace.
For instance, try running as fast as you can for 10 seconds then walk the remaining 50 seconds of each minute for 5 minutes and build up from there.
As your fitness increases, you can keep extending yourself by increasing the distance you walk in the same time and adding more hills and stairs to spike your heart rate.
Keeping track of your heart rate is very important. If it’s too slow then your walk becomes a nice stroll, but it really isn’t burning enough calories to help you lose or maintain your weight or provide you with the best health impacts.
Conversely, you can push yourself too hard for too long and sometimes do more harm than good.
There are heart rate monitors on just about all fitness bands and mobile phones these days but if you have no devices at your disposal you can do it the old fashioned way.
To check your pulse manually, press a couple of fingers but not your thumb to your jugular vein or wrist and time your pulse over ten seconds. Count zero on the first heartbeat and then times it by six to get your heart rate over a minute.
It’s easy to calculate your maximum heart rate; it is 220 minus your age. If you’re 45 years old then your maximum target heart rate is 220 minus 45 = 175.
A good signal that shows you’re getting fitter is when your heart rate drops quickly after you’ve spiked it.
It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than you were yesterday – Anon
I aim to do some sort of exercise every day and if I have to miss one day then it is only two days in-between my training. Outside of my incidental walking I aim to powerwalk for around 40 – 60 minutes at a time.
According to the Mayo Clinic; the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends for healthy adults to do moderate aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) a week or 75 minutes (one and a quarter hours) a week of vigorous aerobic workouts. That’s not a lot of time to devote to living better when you consider there are 10,500 minutes (168 hours) in every week.
It’s also advised we do strength training exercises such as lifting free weights or doing body-weight training for all our major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful and what is accrued over the day has great on-going health benefits.
The same voice that says “give up” can also be trained to say “keep going” – US fitness trainer Josh Bailey
Don’t just think about exercising as a way to manage your weight, also think of it in terms of boosting your mood, energising you, helping you sleep and combating health conditions and diseases regardless of our age, gender or physical ability.
Whether it’s bush walking or a dance class or playing in your local sports team; getting your body moving can be fun and a social way to stay connected with friends and family. Be conscious of breathing deeply when you’re exercising too.
Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom — Jack Lalanne, Godfather of Modern Fitness
Stay Strong and Safe
Susie Elelman AM
Author, Radio & TV Broadcaster