The positive health benefits associated with physical activity are many and studies have shown that physical inactivity leads to an increased risk of chronic diseases, disability and premature death. Leading a physically active lifestyle does not have to mean running a marathon every year or becoming the national triathlon champion. Ideas for becoming more active can be as simple as taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and walking rather than driving to the mailbox. Integrating these, or similar activities to your daily routine will help you become more active.
Slow and Steady
The secret to becoming physically active is to go at your own pace and to take it one step at a time. Individuals who have been inactive for several years, and told to increase their level of physical activity in an effort to improve their overall health, will not become runners overnight. For those of you who are starting out, it is recommended that you begin with brisk walks and that you gradually increase your speed. To motivate you to take those extra steps there are simple, effective tools, such as pedometers, that can encourage you to "increase your speed". This small, inexpensive gadget that counts the numbers of steps you take, is easy to use and is highly motivating. To start, set a goal of 1000 steps in 10 minutes and gradually work your way up to 3000 steps in 30 minutes. The important thing is to engage in consistent, regular activity and to set goals that are both reasonable and challenging.
Recommended Amount of Physical Activity
Adults should ideally engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five days a week. Children and teens should engage in one hour of physical activity a day but should avoid weight training since it may hinder growth. Last but not least, regular physical activity is also very important for seniors, as it allows them to maintain their autonomy for as long as possible.
Various Levels of Intensity
It is important to know that there are three levels of aerobic intensity. Being able to recognize the various levels will allow you to choose the one that best suits your level of fitness. The first one is known as low intensity. For example, shopping, cooking or doing laundry are not considered physical activities by most since they do not require much physical exertion. The second level of intensity is known as moderate. Increased heart rate and sweating characterize moderate intensity activities. A brisk walk, water aerobics and pushing a lawnmower are examples of moderate intensity activities. High intensity is the last and most vigorous level of aerobic intensity. Activities included in this category are jogging, swimming laps and playing tennis. Hard and fast breathing and being unable to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath characterize this level.
Here are key rules to help you stick to you physical fitness program and avoid injuries
Physical activity is vital to health. One does not need to join a gym to exercise. Taking a 30-minute walk, five to seven days a week, is plenty. Exercising can help delay or prevent the use of medication for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as prevent dosage increases for some medications.
Have fun while you exercise! The benefits will be instantaneous.
|How much and how long depends on the intensity|
|Low intensity (60 minutes)||Moderate intensity (30-60 minutes)||High intensity (20-30 minutes)|
|Easy Walk||Brisk walk||Aerobics|
|Light gardening||Picking up leaves||Playing hockey|
|Dancing||Swimming or dancing at a continuous pace|
Source: Health Canada
For more information:
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.