Daily activity helps keep both our bodies and minds in shape over the long-term. Without a doubt, physical activity is an important factor in preventing a number of diseases, such as coronary artery disease.
Here are some of the benefits of regular physical activity:
The kind of activity or sport you do isn't important; what's important is being active every day. It also doesn't matter whether exercise is a workday activity, method of transportation, or hobby—the more active you are, the greater the benefits for your health.
How long does it take see health benefits?
Your results will depend on the frequency and intensity of your physical activity. The more you exercise, the faster you will get results. To maximize health benefits, you need to exercise at a somewhat moderate intensity. However, after just a few weeks of daily exercise at even a low intensity, you will already start to notice the main benefits (less shortness of breath, increased muscle endurance, greater ease of movement, feeling of well-being, better sleep, etc.).
What type of physical activity shoud I do ?
Why not do something you love? Be adventurous and try new activities. You should keep in mind that it is never too late to start a new activity.
Why not begin by walking? This activity costs nothing and anyone can do it. You don't have to train for a marathon to be active. Walking at a good intensity most days of the week is all you need to do to be an active adult. A good idea for stepping up your motivation is getting a fitness partner.
Once you have chosen an activity that you like (e.g., walking, biking, swimming), try to do interval (or intermittent) training to maximize the benefits for your cardiovascular health. The next time you go for a bike ride or a walk, speed up your pace for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 8 minutes. Take a 2- to 3-minute break, and then finish with a second round identical to the first. The intensity of your workout should make you out of breath but still able to talk to your fitness partner. Alternate interval training days with continuous training days for best results. Not only does interval training have considerable benefits for your health, it will also seem easier, less monotonous and more fun than continuous workouts.
How many days per week do I need to be active ?
Ideally, you need to be active every day. However, to reach your physical fitness goals, you should be realistic at first.
There are many reasons for putting off a workout, such as the weather or family or work constraints. You need to schedule exercise just as you would a work meeting or an outing with friends. Make your health a PRIORITY. Just like taking a shower or brushing your teeth, physical activity must be part of your daily routine to maintain your health. Keep in mind that doing 15 minutes of physical activity every day of the week increases life expectancy by 3 years.
How long do I need to work out for ?
Each workout session can vary depending on how much time you have. You can work out from 10 to 60 minutes at a time. You can also divide up this time into shorter sessions. For example, three 10-minute sessions have the same benefits as one 30-minute session of continuous physical activity. The goal is to gradually increase the duration of physical activity and aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (or less at a higher intensity) every day of the week.
At what intensity do I have to work out ?
The intensity of your workouts will vary depending on the type of exercise you are doing (continuous or interval). It's important to always listen to your body and work out at an intensity you can handle. If you feel like you have reached your limits and can no longer keep up the pace, SLOW DOWN! You need to feel like you are exerting yourself but still have energy. At any time during your workout, you should be able to whistle or hold a short conversation with your fitness partner while being slightly out of breath. This will keep you in a safe workout zone while maximizing the benefits for your health.
The 4-Steps of a workout
Start each workout with a short warm-up routine. This will gradually increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles.
2. Aerobic period
This is a period of increased intensity. During this stage, you should be slightly out of breath but still able to talk. If you feel that the exercise is too easy, you need to speed up the pace. Listen to your body during your workout to determine whether the exercise is too easy or too difficult, whether you are able to talk and whether you have reached your limits.
3. Cool down
Your workout should finish with a cool down. This helps you to gradually ease your intensity to a resting pace. You should then do some strength training and stretching exercises.
4. General strength training exercises
You should add strength training and flexibility exercises to your workout at least 2 to 3 times per week.
Strength training helps you maintain muscle tone and increase stamina. Exercising your muscles will also make daily activities easier and help you maintain your independence over the long-term. Starting at age 30, we start to lose muscle fibre, and this loss becomes more pronounced around the age of 60. As we age, our muscle quality (muscle mass and strength) also decreases. In fact, we lose approximately 1% of our muscle mass every year. Strength training slows down this muscle loss (sarcopenia), reinforces your joints, and improves your posture. If you suffer from osteoporosis, strength training is also a basic preventive measure for this condition. A last tip: are you unsure about whether to inhale or exhale when you contract your muscles? Ideally, you should exhale with every muscle contraction, but the most important thing is not to hold your breath!
There are many types of strength training programs available. It's best to go slowly and pay attention to how your body responds to the exercise. People with specific joint problems (shoulder tendinitis, hip bursitis, a herniated disc, etc.) need to pay attention to any joint pain when they exercise. If you experience joint pain, consult a kinesiologist for alternative exercises.