Ben Emanuel II
Health is something we take for granted, and only think about when we are not feeling good, which is a huge mistake. When it comes to health, prevention is the key, and treatment and all the rest come secondary. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, at least if you look how a modern way of life looks.
People spend their days at work, sitting all day. Once they come home, they spend their free time resting or catching up with family and friends. In other words, nobody has time for physical activity in their hectic day-to-day.
In this article, we will talk about how little is necessary to keep your health, at least from an activity standpoint. After reading, you will understand that your excuses are exactly that – excuses, and nothing else. The right amount of exercise takes much less time than you think, and you will immediately notice the benefits.
Yes, it would be great if you can meet the guidelines we will mention below, but don’t decide to not even try if you know you can’t meet them to the letter.
Any amount of activity will benefit your health. In fact, just spending less time sitting can show improvements. So while at work, set up a Pomodoro timer. Once it rings, stand up, go to the water fountain, or stretch. Also, try to switch positions while you sit, or move to a standing desk from time to time.
Don’t have time to get to the gym? Just get off the bus a station early, and walk home. These little improvements can help you counter some of those negative effects all-day sitting leaves on the body.
If you can manage 150 minutes of activity each week, your heart will thank you. This is the minimum necessary amount if you want to have substantial health benefits. You will lower the risks of coronary diseases, strokes, diabetes, but also depression and some forms of cancer.
We are talking about moderate intensity here, so something like jogging, brisk walking, cycling, but also playing sports with your buddies – anything that will get your heart pumping, but not racing.
If you can go over 150, even better. With more activity, you will get even more benefits, and the recommended amount is 150-300 minutes/week. But that doesn’t mean exercising 300+ a week is damaging, on the contrary, you will still get benefits.
So no excuses, 150/7 is less than 25 minutes of brisk walking each day. That is something anyone can fit in into their schedules, no matter how busy.
If you are not the type of person who likes to do things moderately, and you would rather go all-in or not at all, this type of exercise is for you.
Instead of going for a light jog, you go for sprints. When swimming, you swim for laps, to push your personal best. When on a stationary bike, you go for High-Intensity Interval Training. Or if you like sports, you can try tennis (singles) and kickboxing. And even heavy yard work involving shoveling counts as vigorous intensity. Anything that makes you gasping for air after a shorter burst of activity is considered vigorous, or anaerobic.
All of the above was about aerobic and anerobic training, also known as cardio. While it is the most essential part of exercising, at least health-wise, you need another component if you want to get the most benefits – muscle-strengthening activities.
Doing strength work will ensure you not only keep your muscles as you age but also build more. Strength training makes the bones stronger. Furthermore, having more muscles improves your body composition, which is shown to have a direct correlation with health. And training your muscles is especially important if you are trying to lose weight, as it will prevent muscle loss, and the only thing you will lose is fat and water.
This doesn’t have to be a gym, you can train your muscles with your bodyweight too. Start with introducing some pushups in the morning, followed by squats and situps. And get an inexpensive pull-up bar you can mount on your doorframe. On it, you will not only work out your back, biceps and abs but also stretch, helping your spine and shoulders decompress.
The good news is that you not only can, but should, combine different types of exercising together. That will make your workouts much easier, and you will reach the goal with less effort.
You are probably doing this already – any kind of warmups are done at a low-to-moderate intensity. You won’t go straight to sprints, you will perform some jogging first.
There are also ways how you can intertwine cardio with strength training. Giant sets are a good example of that, but also CrossFit or similar group programs. There, you work out with resistance, which directly hits your muscles. But you also do the exercises under intensity, keeping your heart pumping, which counts as aerobic/anaerobic activities.
All the tips from above were taken from the second edition of PhysicalActivityGuidelines, published by the government. The document is pure gold, and entirely free. Download it and read it over and over again. It will tell you everything you need to understand about improving and keeping your health, no matter the age.