When it comes to exercise, there’s no one size fits all. You choose what’s convenient for you as long as you achieve a desired degree of fitness. You must exercise every day, and any kind is superb for you. The more you practice, the better you become. Diet alone cannot suffice – well, the herbivores should have been faster than the carnivores but, the converse is true.
For a healthy mind and body, the aim is to attain some level of physical activity daily. The exercises you do should involve muscle-strengthening – legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, arms, and shoulders. And this should happen at least two days a week. You ought to engage yourself for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.
To stay healthy implies reducing the time you spend sitting or lying down. Do this by breaking up long tenures of non-movement with some exercise. You can as well, achieve your weekly target by having several short sessions of very vigorous-intensity sessions. Or a mix of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous-intensity activity. If time is the limiting factor, you can perform your weekly targets on a single day or over two or more days.
It is imperative to acknowledge that disability doesn’t mean inability, and so is pregnancy. The exercise pattern above works well for people with disability, pregnant women, and new mothers. For postpartum women, their exercise choices must reflect the pre-pregnancy activity levels. Do not begin with vigorous exercises if you were inactive before pregnancy.
Since we’ve categorised exercises into moderate, vigorous, and very vigorous, let’s explain what constitutes so.
Any moderate exercise will increase your heart rate, breathing rate and make you feel warm. For it to be so, you should be able to talk during the activity, but not sing. Examples of such exercises are brisk walking, water aerobics, bicycle riding, dancing, et cetera.
On the other hand, vigorous exercises will make you breathe hard and fast. You may be unable to utter words without catching a breath. Many moderate physical activities can become vigorous if you add a little effort. Examples include jogging, running, bicycle riding on a hill or faster speeds, walking up the stairs, sports, rope skipping, aerobics, gymnastics, et cetera.
We define a very vigorous exercise as that one that you perform in short bursts of maximum effort broken up with rest. We also term it as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Examples are heavy weight lifting, circuit training, sprinting up hills, interval running, running upstairs, et cetera.
A few exercises help strengthen your muscles. To benefit from them, you ought to practice until you need a short rest before repeating the exercise. You can perform them at home or in a gym. They include yoga, tai chi, lifting weights, working with resistance bands, push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, lifting and carrying children, et cetera. You can choose to do muscle-strengthening exercises on the same or different days as your other exercises. They aren’t aerobics. So, don’t only do them and expect to achieve any level of physical activity. Do them concurrently. It’s a grave mistake to think that push-ups and sit-ups will suffice for your body. They only strengthen the muscles. Do them and run, ride, or swim as well.
The NHS has more data about exercise and you, including guidelines for children, young people and the elderly to enable you to live well.