By Carin Clegg, Accredited Practising Dietitian & Personal Trainer
Our bodies are living breathing, moving, metabolising machines, but the lifestyle and even culture we live in can make it very hard to prioritise moving our bodies in a way that makes us feel great physically and emotionally.
A lot of people ask ‘Is walking enough”. As a fitness professional I say NO WAY! We need to be warming up, stretching, using or strengthening all our major muscle groups and joints in order to keep everything working optimally and to prevent injuries from the day to day activities we do; computer or other work activities, home and garden jobs, shopping etc.
All our muscles and joints work with the others next to them and opposite so whenever we do an activity we are or should be engaging most of the muscles in our body.
Posture is so important too. If we have poor posture that means we will be using the wrong muscles and will lead to injuries and aches and pains. Poor posture means some of our muscles are tight and need stretching and some of our muscles are weak and need strengthening. Poor posture occurs due to our daily activities and with the absence of a whole body workout.
Exercise guidelines recommend we move for 2.5–5hours a week moderate to high intensity, include strength activities 2 days a week and limit sedentary activity.
If someone is diagnosed with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer or any kind of chronic disease, exercise now being prescribed as it is now known to be an important way of managing and preventing progression of the condition in conjunction with or sometimes as a replacement to medicine. An Exercise Physiologist is the best professional to help you in this situation.
For most of my clients who come to me for weight loss I recommend aiming for 1 hour of moderate to high intensity exercise a day which will result in 1kg weight loss a week as long as the body is fuelled well with nutritious foods, maximising metabolic rate for optimal fat burning.
For many people this is simply not realistic or safe to do, so slowly starting to incorporate exercise into your day and week then building up the time and intensity slowly is recommended.
The hardest thing to do when someone is unfit, or trying an new type of exercise is to start and make it a habit. Like with anything new it feels uncomfortable at first but when your body and muscles get used to it, you know what to do and it starts to feel more like second nature you actually start to enjoy it and this keeps you wanting to go back again and again. It can take a good 9 months for something to become a habit, ie. feel easy to do.
Sometimes giving yourself a reward (not food based) to start your activity sessions can help, or organising to do it with a friend or relative.
I find that booking yourself into a pre–paid class helps to get you going and gives you the energy and motivation to add more physical activity into your week.
So you may do your yoga class on Monday then by Wednesday or Thursday you feel like you really do want to get out for that walk, swim or bike ride.
There are so many options to being physically active so find what interests you and works best for you. Start with walking or an online, virtual or face–to–face class.
If you choose to start walking aim for 2–3 times a week and increase to daily. Then add some warm up exercises to warm up all your joints. The add stretches using your main muscle groups at the end of your workout. Perhaps some yoga moves that you know.
When ready perhaps pick up the pace, use weights to make the walk more intense. Then add some work out exercises to make your heart work a little more or make your muscles work a little more.
Little by little, day by day it will all add up to you feeling more fit and ready to move onto bigger and better things.
You will have more energy, sleep better, manage your emotions better, feel more at one with your body, have a higher self–esteem, feel calmer or happier, be able to do more in your day or work more efficiently, feel proud that you did a new thing, had a great time with friends and did not need to go back to the GP for another lot of blood tests because you are looking after yourself. The ball is in your court!
Carin Clegg is the Director of Bright Diets and is a Paediatric Dietitian and Fitness Professional with an interest in environmental sustainability. Carin wants everyone to be clever about their eating to feel happy, healthy and vibrant! Contact Carin on 0407 492 278 or via www.brightdiets.com.au