New review of evidence from Public Health England presented in July, reveals that there is a major disconnect between the exercise that people need and the exercise that they do.
In light of this fact, I revamp this article on how to exercise for best health benefits. All important points with their own benefits, note that some may overlap. Aim to implement the ones that work best for you.
If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.
How to exercise for best health benefits – tips relative to latest research
1. Aim to do 10 hours of moderate activity a week for optimum benefits.
A study published last month at Westmead Institute for Medical Research has proven that people who engage in the highest levels of physical activity are twice as likely to avoid all chronic disease and more likely to be in optimal mental & physical shape 10 years into the future.
This research suggests that physical activity levels need to be SEVERAL TIMES HIGHER than what the World Health Organization currently recommends(150 Mins Moderate or 75 Mins Vigorous per Week) in order to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
At the end of the article, I list the advanced guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization for “additional health benefits”.
However, it must be noted that the Westmead study takes this to the next level. It advocates 600 minutes, which equates to 10 hours of moderately intensive activity for optimum health benefits.
2. Do some form of high-intensity interval training twice a week.
High intensive interval training is a mix of short, high intensity bursts of exercise with slow, recovery phases, repeated in a short 15-20 minute session. It can be done as either strength training or aerobic training.
The benefit of this is the activation of telemerase, an anti-aging enzyme.
It is advisable to do twice a week, to gain this anti-aging benefit.
3. Do strengthening exercises at least twice a week
Most people do understand the need for aerobic but they still do not understand that there is an equal importance for strengthening exercises.
Last month’s report from the Public Health of England recommends that we do strengthening exercises at least twice a week for strong muscles & bones. Lifting weights is one option, but taking up tennis or dance also works.
Muscle is so important to us, especially as we get older. When older people have the muscle strength to live independent lives, there is no doubt they are healthier, happier and more independent. Bone mass in the same way is important. Note that bone mass after age of 35 starts to decrease more rapidly and it becomes even more important for strengthening exercises after this time.
4. Walk for 30 minutes at a fast walking speed – should make you slightly out of breath
A recent study published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, proved that speeding up your walking pace could extend your lifespan.
Walking at a fast pace was associated with a reduced risk of 24% for all-cause mortality in comparison to walking at a slower walking pace. This association was even more pronounced in the over 60’s age group.
The “Active 10” App is downloadable here and is the only app that tracks intensity and time together, as opposed to just distance. It encourages 10 minutes fast walking in the day 3 times a day (30 minutes broken up).
5. Sit less, move more – move every 30 minutes
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who stay sedentary for 12.5 hours or more a day — have the highest risk of death from any cause.
But what made the risk even more pronounced was 90 minutes sitting at one go – this made things worse, the researchers noted. If you spend your day like that, it makes no difference whether you squeeze in a workout in the morning or at night.
For every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting, it is recommended to stand up and move/walk for five minutes at a brisk pace to reduce these risks.
6. Exercise at time of day that works best for you
Getting out into the light first thing in the morning helps to set you circadian cycles and wakes you up for the day.
A study linked morning workouts to both longer sleep deeper sleep cycles when compared to exercising at other times of the day.
However, Swiss researchers found vigorous exercise performed one-and-a-half hours before bedtime was associated with falling asleep faster, fewer awakenings after sleep onset, and better mood states.
Go with what works best for you.
7. Exercise in nature once a week
New Research indicates that living close to green spaces or spending time there on a regular basis has significant benefits on your overall health. The research showed that the greater the exposure to green spaces the greater the chances of having better overall health, a longer sleep duration as well as a long list of other benefits. Certain organic compounds that are released by trees look to be the key ingredient.
We should all aim to get more exposure to nature, preferably in the presence of trees, whether that be to forest-bathe like the Japanese or to spend more time in our local park.
8. Include a form of exercise that offers enhanced cognitive benefits
Research indicates that when mental exercise and physical exercise are combined, the result is enhanced health benefits for the brain. Due to this fact, certain forms of exercise offer more cognitive benefits than others.
Any form of active activity that involves a lot of brain work would qualify here. Activities of a meditative nature can also qualify.
Three forms of exercise that offer enhanced cognitive benefits are exergaming, dance and yoga.
9. The more you move the better
The more movement that you do during the day the better – whether that be house-work, gardening or intentional exercise – it all works. The people who live in the “Blue Zones” or places where people live longest in the world move a lot on a daily basis.
10,000 steps has been the amount of “walking” that has been advocated for some time. There is no concrete scientific evidence behind the 10,000 steps specifically. It started in Japan, when an academic at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare wanted to help the Japanese to become more active. It is good number to aim for, but do not get overly fixated on the 10,000.
The important thing is to move as much as is possible for you & to remember that it is quantifiable daily “movement” that counts in terms of longevity.
10. Listen to music while exercising
Now, we do not need science to tell us that exercising to music makes us enjoy it more. But just in case that we are in any doubt! A study proved that music increased beta waves and elicited a more positive emotional state.
Researchers found that listening to music led to a 28 percent increase in enjoyment during a walk, in comparison to those who did not listen to anything at all. Enjoyment was also 13 percent higher in comparison to those who listened to a podcast.
Listening to music when you exercise is likely to have a positive impact on both your performance and your persistence to keep up a new exercise habit.
11. Finally, Stay positive!
Do not get upset if you have a bad week. Average fitness over your lifetime is what counts.
World Health Organization – Enhanced Guidelines, Note that the July 2018 Westmead Study advocates more – 600 minutes, which equates to 10 hours of moderately intensive activity for optimum health benefits.
5-17 years old – Greater than 60 mins every day
• Moderate to vigorous activity greater than 60 minutes every day. (Greater than 1 HOUR)
• Most of this should be aerobic.
• Should include exercises that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.
18-64 years old – 5 hours moderate or 2.5 hours vigorous per week
• Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity of 300 minutes per week (5 HOURS)
OR engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. (2.5 HOURS)
OR an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
• Should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes daily.
• Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
65 years & above – 5 hours moderate or 2.5 hours vigorous per week
• Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity of 300 minutes per week (5 HOURS)
OR engage in 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week (2.5 HOURS)
OR an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity activity.
• Those poor mobility should choose activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
• Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, on 2 or more days a week.
• If not possible to do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, then should as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
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