We all know that exercise is good for us and that we should do some every day. But do you know what happens to your body when you exercise and why it is good for you? How much should you actually do? And how can you incorporate exercise into your working life?
What happens when we exercise?
When we exercise our heart rate increases, our breathing gets deeper and faster and blood starts flowing more rapidly around our body. This means muscles get the nutrients (energy, oxygen) they need and the waste (lactic acid, carbon dioxide) is transported away. As our muscles work, our body temperature rises, so to cool down we sweat and we might blush. On top of all this, adrenaline (stress hormone) levels decrease and endorphins (feel-good hormones) are produced.
After a few months of regular exercise, our muscles grow and we get stronger. Our body also creates more blood vessels to transport the nutrients and it develops more power stations in our cells so we can make better use of nutrients delivered. This leads to our bodies producing more energy for our muscles, so they can work for longer. In other words, we increase our stamina.
Why is exercise so good?
Apart from increased strength and stamina, you also benefit from:
- Prolonged life expectancy
- Better looks (slows ageing, weight loss, toning)
- Improved balance and memory
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
- Reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
- Prevention of illnesses, such as heart problems, cancer, COPD
- Strengthened bones
- Increased flexibility/reduced joint stiffness
- A chance to meet new people
How much should you do?
Recommended levels from the Department of Health:
- Be active every day
- Should be moderate intensity - making us feel out of breath, but able to have a conversation, and warm or slightly sweaty
- 2.5 hrs/week, could be 30 min/day, 5 days/week. Can be split up in 10 minute intervals throughout the day
- Mix cardiovascular (cycling, walking, housework) and strengthening (gym session, digging in the garden)
How can you achieve it?
Most of us have, at some point, decided to start doing more exercise but sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation or time in our busy lives. To keep yourself motivated you can follow some of these easy tips:
- Think of all the benefits
- Plan your exercise and keep a diary
- Keep it regular – same time, same day every week
- Set yourself goals (weight loss, increase distance, decrease time, adding weights etc.) Visit www.topachievement.com for more information on this
- Go to group sessions or with a friend, so you can spur each other on
- Be accountable to someone – tell your friends and family about your goals and plans
- Treat yourself – new clothes (for losing weight) or maybe an extra chocolate bar
- Exercise should not be expensive. Visit the link below for more ideas on how you can exercise for free and build this into your daily routine
For more information, please visit: www.nhs.uk/livewell/fitness