Spring into fitness — safely

Spring into fitnessThere’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.

 

active aprilStay safe

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.

Melbourne health writer & blogger, copywriter & editor, researcher extraordinaire.
Delivering high-quality health writing with exceptional customer service.

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Can music really help your workouts?

IMG_4744Whether you like lifting weights, attending a boxing class or going for a run, chances are you are listening to music while you work out. But does your choice of music just make exercise more fun, or can it actually improve your workout?

Numerous studies indicate that music does have an impact on workouts, and can actually lead to greater work output.

For example, a study involving 12 college students riding stationery bikes was published in 2010. The subjects rode the bikes while listening to six different songs played at their normal tempo. The songs were then played 10 per cent faster and 10 per cent slower. When the tempo of the music increased so did the pedalling. When the music slowed down, pedaling also slowed down, indicating that music influenced the rate at which they were pedaling.

So how does this compute in the real world?

It seems that the rhythm (the tempo) of the music is the most important factor when it comes to the motivational factor.

When engaging in moderate to intense exercise, music with a tempo of between 125-140 beats per minute (bpm) is what works best, particularly if the rhythm is in time with some of the movements of the exercise (e.g. boxing or kickboxing).

But it’s not just the tempo that influences whether we work harder or not. When a piece of music has some kind of meaning for you, or has an emotional story attached to it, then you are more likely to work harder. For example, the theme from Rocky or Hall of Fame, which was used to promote Australian television coverage of the Winter Olympics.

So if you want to get more out of your workout, perhaps look at the type of music you are listening to.

For some great ideas on workout music (including details of bpm), visit www.runhundred.com

For a more in-depth look at how music can motivate and enhance performance, read Fitness Australia’s article “Move to the Music

References:

Costas I, Karageorghis & Priest, D, 2012, ‘Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (Part I),International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 44-66

Costas I, Karageorghis & Priest, D 2012, ‘Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (Part II), International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 67-84.

Get active in April

Premier's Active AprilThis April all Victorians are invited to get more active.

The Premier’s Active April campaign is part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to promote healthy and active lifestyles and get Victorians more active, more often!

Research has shown that regular physical activity can:

  •          Reduce your risk of a heart attack
  •          Lower your blood cholesterol
  •          Lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  •          Lower your blood pressure
  •          Increase the strength of your bones
  •          Help you maintain a healthy weight
  •          Lead to better sleep
  •          Lead to increased happiness and energy levels.

The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days.

In it’s sixth year, Active April challenges all Victorians to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day during the month of April.

Want to participate?

It’s easy. Simply log onto https://www.activeapril.vic.gov.au/ and register your details. You can register as an individual, a family, a team or a school. Simply by registering, you are eligible for some fabulous offers and have a chance to win some great prizes.

By logging your activity into the Active April app, you can keep track of how well you are going.

active aprilThe Active April website is filled with tips on getting your activity in each day, along with a list of events you can participate in.

And the best part about it, is that it’s free.

Don’t live in Victoria? That’s no excuse!

Why not run your own Active April. Grab your family or some mates and make a commitment to be active for 30 minutes each day of April. You’ll be doing something positive for your health and happiness.

Further details:

Premier’s Active April

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines