The recommended minimum amount of exercise for the average adult is 2 and a half hours a week of "moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity" (bit of a mouth-full). All that means is 2 and a half hours of something like light running or five-a-side football split into something like five sets of half an hour, not 2 and a half hours straight (just making sure). The same guidelines also say that we should all be doing 1 or 2 muscle-strengthening activities a week.
There's one thing that's missing from these guidelines that is the most important. FUN. Is there a point in doing something for half an hour, five days a week if it’s not fun? I was having a similar conversation with someone the other day (sad, I know) and they said that they don’t exercise because they don’t enjoy it. They asked me what sorts of things that I do to keep fit and I told them I play football, badminton, squash, go swimming......”oh I used to love playing badminton in school”. Hang on......is badminton not exercise?
I think this highlights a lot of people’s misconceptions about what exercise is. It’s not just a gym membership or running or an aerobics class. It’s anything that gets you a little out of breathe (steady!). And it’s better to do something with someone else than doing it on your own (I’m not making this any better am I?). Seriously though, take a friend, or if you’re too embarrassed or have no one to take then join a club. Taking part with other people makes it more enjoyable and if you make plans to do something with others then you’re more likely to stick them. After a day at work it’s too easy to think; forget that run/going to the gym/bike ride or whatever you planned to do on your own. But if you have arranged to go running with a group or you have joined a rugby team and have training that night or you’ve made plans to meet someone at an aerobics class then these are all things that you’re much more likely to stick to. Because, let’s face it, for most, it’s more of a laugh than trudging along the streets on your tod with that over-listened to mp3 player.
Just want to say quickly as well about the 1 or 2 muscle strengthening activities we should all be doing. In the last blog I said about muscle’s fat burning potential. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. But we don’t all have to hit the weights, get huge arms and then start wearing t-shirts 2 sizes too small (seriously, why do some blokes do that?). Muscle strengthening activities don’t have to include weights at all. Use your own body weight. Lunges, press-ups, squats, even pilates: all fantastic exercises that don’t need weights and use a lot of muscles. And if these feel too much like exercise then hit the aerobic and muscle-strengthening birds with one metaphorical, and more fun, stone and join a circuit training or body combat class.
Exercise should never feel like exercise. It’s something everyone should do but also something everyone should want to do. Try new things. Try everything until you find something you like. Tennis, football, yoga, rock climbing, canoeing.....the list of things that you can do is endless.
Thanks for making it to the bottom.