There’s no doubt the warmer weather, and the impending beach season is good motivation to take up a regular exercise regime.
But are you exercising safely?
How much exercise do we need?
After emerging from the pile of blankets you’ve been hiding under during winter, usually a few kilos heavier, it can be tempting to start a gruelling exercise plan, in a bid to lose the winter weight. But overdoing it could increase your risk of injury.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines state that we should:
- Be active on most, preferably all, days every week
- Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week
- Do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
Benefits of exercise
Many of us make the mistake of seeing exercise as a way to shed unwanted weight. And while exercise does help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, its benefits go beyond weight loss. Regular exercise leads to:
- Increased muscle mass: The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism; which means it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight.
- Increased muscle strength: This is important for balance and reduces your risk of injury.
- Improved bone strength: The stronger your bones, the less risk of osteoporosis.
- Healthy immune system: When your immune system is strong, you are less likely to get sick.
- Decreased risk of chronic disease: Your risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes are reduced.
- Better energy levels: You will experience increased energy levels.
- Reduced stress levels: You will be less stressed.
- Improved sleep: Your sleep quality will improve.
Start out slowly
If it has been a while in between workouts, you need to start out slowly and gradually build up to the recommended amount. That means walking before you begin running; engaging in low-impact activities before you start high-impact activities; and lifting light weights before you graduate to heavy ones.
If you are overweight or have a pre-existing health condition, you should also seek the advice of your health practitioner.
The whole point of exercise is to improve your health. So with that in mind, it’s worth considering the following safety tips:
- Invest in shoes that will support your foot appropriately for the activity you will be undertaking.
- Wear appropriate clothing, preferably clothing that will wick sweat away from your body.
- Ensure you warm up and cool down correctly.
- Stretch all the muscle groups properly.
- Stay hydrated, particularly during warm or hot weather.
- Apply sunscreen and wear a hat if exercising outdoors.
- Pay attention to your nutrition, and eat food that will fuel your body. Don’t be tempted to starve yourself in a bid to lose weight quickly.
- Enlist the help of a qualified personal trainer or exercise physiologist if you are unsure of how to perform specific exercises, or need assistance in developing an exercise program for your goals.
- Stop if you feel pain of any kind.
Spring is a great time to get off the couch, get moving again and experience the great outdoors. But remember, ease into it gently and build your activity levels up gradually. Before you know it, exercise will be a normal, healthy part of your lifestyle.
The Write Way to Health blog is part of the portfolio of Write to the Point Communications.
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