We all know the benefits of exercise and physical activity, but our sedentary lifestyle is taking a toll on our health. Did you know that sedentary lifestyle is the fourth leading cause of mortality worldwide? While there are some who say they are too tired or too old or too fat to exercise; there are others who hold back because of their body image or self-esteem. Yet there is another set of people that can manage time for their daily workout no matter how busy they are. Everybody has the same amount of hours in a day and everybody can make time to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily if we learn to prioritise.
Woes of modern lifestyle:
The sad part of our sedentary life today is our modern lifestyle. Most of us have a desk-bound job and we end up working for at least 8-10 hours in a day or sometimes even more. We skip healthy breakfast and eat junk on the go. Lunch and dinner becomes an outside affair. So, when do we eat healthy home-cooked meals that are rich in nutrition? Very rarely! This adds up to the extra pounds that we put on month on month.
Physical activity takes a backseat as we get less opportunities to be active. Bus or car is our daily mode of commute even if we stay close to our work place. Our sedentary lifestyle manifests itself even more in our entertainment. For instance, sitting in front of the television, computers, video games and cinemas is absolutely killing us slowly, as they are all replacing our outdoor activities.
So, what are the recommendations for physical activity and how much should we be doing? What actually counts? There is a specific guideline for every age group, including children, adults and senior citizens.
Exercise can’t really replace with anything for children between 5-17 years. They should be outdoors every day playing with friends, taking part in sports, running around with a ball or swimming. A lot of activity is essential for their overall health. Exercise will also help children to improve cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness; build strong bones; reduce anxiety and depression; improve cardiovascular and metabolic rate.
How much should you do as a child?
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A child should be physically active doing moderate to rigorous exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. Most of them should be aerobic (moderate activity). They should include vigorous activity for at least three times in a week.
For adults, between 18 and 64 years, everything counts. You should be indulging in sports, jogging, yoga, dance class, walking. Choose anything that you enjoy and you will stick to without getting bored.
How much should you do as an adult?
Ideally, you should be doing moderate intensity activity for 150 minutes, which is typically broken down into 530-minute session; muscle strengthening should also be included twice a week. You can also opt for 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity during the week with muscle strengthening training on two days. But if you want variety and want to keep things spiced up, do a mix of moderate and vigorous activity. It can be 35 minutes of vigorous activity and 75 minutes of moderate activity in a week. However, you should not miss out your muscle strengthening training. So, working on your body tone is also important.
Suggestive Reading: How Getting Physical with Aerobics Can Help.
If you are someone over 64 years, don’t let your age slow you down. Exercise is not something which should be pushed aside as you age because it improves your heart, your bones, your muscular fitness, reduces your risk of diseases, improves your mental health and stops cognitive decline.
How much should you do?
Follow the guideline activity for adults (18-64 years). You can also opt for 530-minute sessions a week. A word of caution: If you have any medical conditions, you may need to take it easy. You can, however, be physically active as much as possible.
Types of exercises:
Moderate 150 minutes
Moderate aerobics include brisk walking, water aerobics, cycling on level ground (no hills), double tennis, pushing a land mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball among others. When you do moderate exercise, you will breath faster and feel warmer; but you should be able to talk and sing along to a song.
Muscle training + 2 days
Lifting weight, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that uses your body weight for resistance like push ups and sit ups, heaving gardening and shovelling, yoga etc are some of the muscle training exercises that you can take up.
Vigorous exercise include jogging, running, cycling fast or on hills, single tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics and martial arts. When you do vigorous exercise, you are really pushing yourself; you are breathing hard and fast; your heart rate goes up quite a bit and you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
The simple mantra to get rid of a sedentary lifestyle is to prioritise and take physical activity seriously, no matter how busy you are. Exercise regularly that includes moderate, vigorous and muscle strengthening workouts. Last but not the least, don’t neglect your diet; eat home-cooked food that is rich in nutrition.
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