With the 2012 Olympics just days away, the UK press has gone into overdrive citing a study (published in the Lancet, a medical journal) suggesting that inactivity is responsible for as many deaths as, for example, smoking. Apparently, one-third of adults worldwide simply don’t have enough physical activity in their lives. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) suggests that adults aged between 19 and 64 should do 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – in other words, cycling, fast walking, swimming … It suggests that we should also, on at least two days of each week, do some muscle-strengthening activities, too (and don’t think this necessarily means pushing weights; try gardening, for example, and see how many muscle groups you work). The jury is currently out, though, as to whether those who are inactive need shock and scare messages to get them moving, or encouragement.
- A healthy and balanced lifestyle depends on a combination of these things: moderate exercise (as described above – both aerobic and strengthening); a balanced diet; and simple techniques and strategies that allow us to release tension and stress (e.g. an exercise form such as yoga, or some meditative time).
- Start your exercise plans with some level of reality. What can you simply and easily build into your current daily schedule? A walk at lunchtime? Cycling to work rather than motorized transport? A weekly dance class? In fact, have you actually counted how many minutes a week you spend doing these things anyway? You might be surprised (for good and for bad).
- Choose an exercise programme/strategy that you enjoy. That may sound obvious, but there’s more likelihood you will continue if you love your new regime.
If you start from the basis that any exercise is better than no exercise, and choose things you enjoy, you’ll soon build up and possibly exceed the guideline timings mentioned above.
Text: © wellbeing practitioner 2012