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Regular exercise can help protect you from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoporosis, and can improve your mood and help you to better manage stress.

For the greatest overall health benefits, experts recommend that you do 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity three or more times a week and some type of muscle strengthening activity and stretching at least twice a week. However, if you are unable to do this level of activity, you can gain substantial health benefits by accumulating 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, at least five times a week.

If you have been inactive for a while, you may want to start with less strenuous activities such as walking or swimming at a comfortable pace. Beginning at a slow pace will allow you to become physically fit without straining your body. Once you are in better shape, you can gradually do more strenuous activity.

Tips on adding exercise to your routine

Experts say that for a physically inactive person to become active, and remain active for the long-term, the activity needs to be convenient and enjoyable. The activity needs to be something you can easily fit into your routine for several days each week. Even if you end up adding just 30 minutes of physical activity to your day, that is fine. Some of the examples below are the easiest to fit into a daily routine:

  • Go for a brisk 30-minute walk five times each week. Ideally, it should be done in one session. If you can’t, two 15-minute sessions would also be good.
  • Walk you dog more often. If you do not have a dog but know a nearby friend who has one, offer to walk it for him/her.
  • Find out whether there are any swimming pools nearby. Try to add some swimming to your weekly routine. This does not have to be every day.
  • During your lunch break at work go for a walk.
  • Join some exercise classes.
  • Join an Aqua club. Beginner’s sessions can be gentle and fun.
  • Beginners must remember that the secret is “little and often”. A little bit every day is great – one big session once a week is not. Make sure your progress is gradual. Make sure you drink plenty of water during and after you exercise. Check with your doctor if you are not sure about your health.
  • Experts say an exercise program should include both aerobic and anaerobic activities. This is true. However, if you are currently inactive, anything is better than nothing.

How Physical Activity Impacts Health

Regular physical activity that is performed on most days of the week reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death.

• Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
• Reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
• Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
• Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
• Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
• Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
• Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
• Helps control weight.
• Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
• Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
• Promotes psychological well-being.

There are three broad Intensities of exercise:

  • Light exercise
    The exerciser is able to talk while exercising. Going for a walk is an example of light exercise.
  • Moderate exercise
    The exerciser feels slightly out of breath during the session. Examples could be walking briskly, cycling moderately, or walking up a hill.
  • Vigorous exercise
    The exerciser is panting during the activity. The exerciser feels his/her body is being pushed much nearer its limit, compared to the other two intensities. This could include running, cycling fast, and heavy weight training.

Some advice when you start an exercise program

When people start an exercise program they may experience various emotions, from elation to anxiety about not being able to keep it up. Remember the following tips which may help you achieve long-term success:

  • Remember why you started
    People start exercising for many reasons: weight loss, health, vanity, the doctor told them to, and to recover from an illness. Keep remembering why you started as this will help keep you motivated.
  • Do everything at your own pace
    Humans tend to be competitive animals. This is great for the winner, and those who come second or third. However, being competitive in the wrong way can kill motivation. If you have to compete, compete with your past self. Compare your performance today with your performance in two weeks’ time. Check your weight, heart rate, blood pressure – then take it again in about three weeks and see the difference.
  • You have to like it
    For long-term success the activity has to be something you enjoy. There are so many activities to choose from. Perhaps there is an activity you really enjoyed when you were a child.
  • Join a club with a friend
    If you join a fitness club with a friend, or exercise with a friend you may enjoy the sessions more. Some people prefer not to have the stress of someone else around. This depends on you.
  • Variation
    Every few weeks change your exercise program. This is important for your motivation and also for best results. The body improves faster if you change your program now and again. This does not mean you have to change walking/running to something else. It could mean changing your speed and distance, and pacing yourself in a different way, perhaps altering your route.
  • Be realistic about your goals
    Some people are motivated by goals, others find them stressful. If you need goals make sure they are realistic – and work towards them.
  • The longer you keep it up the longer you will continue to do it
    After a few weeks your exercise routine starts to become a habit. Even if you find it a bit of a chore at first, remember that after a few weeks it will really become a habit.

Visit Escape Leisure in the Claregalway Hotel for more information on the health benefits of exercise.