How much exercise do you need to stay healthy?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 28 November 2008.
Tagged: energy, exercise, guidelines, guides, health, healthy lifestyle, wellness

How much exercise do you need to stay healthy?
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Exercise. We know it's good for us. We know we need to do it regularly. We know we'll feel good after we've done it. But still we have to force ourselves to get up and get moving.

4 guidelines for being physically active

Over ten years ago, the recommendation for exercise was to do 30 minutes of vigorous and continuous aerobic activity (like jogging) at least three times a week.

Today with less and less need for physical activity in our daily lives, obesity and lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease are on the rise.

As a result, the Australian government launched the Physical Activity Guidelines - you'll see they are a set of more achievable recommendations that will still benefit your overall health.

The Physical Activity Guidelines consist of 4 guidelines:

1. Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
If you can't get the closest spot in the car park, view the extra walk as healthy for your waistline.

2. Be active in as many ways as you can.
Use the stairs instead of the lift, walk to work or the shops, walk to someone's office instead of e-mailing them, do the mowing yourself instead of paying for it.

3. Put together 30 minutes of moderately-intense activity on most days.
Small amounts of light-to-moderately intense activity such as walking, accumulated over the course of the day, may be all that's required to stay healthy - provided it is regular (done at least every second day).

4. Do some vigorous activity on 3 or 4 days of the week if you are able.
Heart-pounding sports such as lap swimming, singles tennis, aerobics, rowing, cycling - even dancing - get you puffing and are great for health if you can do them.

The health benefits of exercise

I bet you already know this! But here's a reminder of how much benefit you gain from even a little bit of exercise. It

  • burns off fat so helps you lose weight
  • stops that gradual weight creep over the years so you maintain a healthy weight
  • raises the 'good' HDL-cholesterol which prevents heart disease
  • helps prevent stroke and high blood pressure
  • reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • keeps your bones strong (if it's weight bearing like walking)
  • clears the mind and leaves you feeling good

If you sit in front of a computer screen all day (like me) or have your head buried in books for study, you'll find exercise will clear your mind and improve your mood. It's impossible to feel bad when you're walking in the green outdoors!

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