Let’s get physical

We are regularly bombarded with health messages regarding being physically active, and while the magic 10,000 step guideline seems rather basic. Could there be other benefits from the two main type of physical activity groups; aerobic and strength training?

Physical activity is an excellent way to lose or maintain weight and should form part of a healthy lifestyle. Speaking about long term health, the different types of physical activity, resistance or aerobic exercise, can have many health benefits for your body. Getting the balance right could be key to healthy aging. While hitting the 10,000 step guideline is a good target, it is important to know that different types of exercise are important for a healthy lifestyle. In 2011 the UK recommendations were set at a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise with some strength training for all adults.

Aerobic Physical Activity

Moderate aerobic exercise is characterised by an increased heart rate and perspiration, whereas in high intensity exercise you may find it hard to say more than a few words in a sentence. This type of exercise is good for weight loss through burning calories when doing the exercise, as well as improving heart muscle strength.

Aerobic activities include:

  • Jogging or running
  • Dancing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Tennis
Physical activity dancing People © Kjpargeter
Physical activity bicycle ride © Vaclav Volrab

Dancing can count as moderate or vigorous exercise depending on the style, and is also sociable and fun. Find local dance classes. Fast cycling can count as vigorous exercise.

Resistance Physical Activity

Resistance exercise is commonly thought of as strength conditioning. This is where you use either your own body weight, or training with weights to work your muscles through repeated (reps) lifting exercises. Doing this type of physical activity can increase muscle strength. This includes major muscle groups such as your core (important for balance), arms and legs, and can benefit in everyday life.

Strength training activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi and Qigong
  • Weight lifting
  • Using resistance bands
  • Exercises using your own body weight e.g. press-ups and sit-ups

Physical activity yoga stretch by the beach © YanLev

Physical activity tai chi group in park © wavebreakmedia

Yoga and Tai Chi are both good for building and maintaining flexibility as well as core strength.

Physical activity is important for many other conditions, such as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. In addition exercise can help improve self esteem and also everyday tasks such as grocery shopping. Therefore in terms of healthy aging, physical activity is important for building and maintaining strong and healthy bones. Both aerobic and resistance physical activity can help build bone density and muscle mass in conjunction with a healthy diet including adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D, preventing osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) in later life.

Why not try the Couch to 5k plan, aimed at those who need a little help to get physically active along with tips to stay healthy when exercising.

By Pippa

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