Benefits of exercise
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. People who lead an active life are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Increased physical activity eases the symptoms of certain long-term health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), whilst also having a positive impact on reducing stress, improving sleep and mental health conditions such as depression.
Who needs to exercise?
People of all ages can benefit from doing some exercise. It’s important that regular physical activity is a part of life for children, adults and older people.
It doesn’t have to be a vigorous workout and you can find ways to fit physical activity into your daily routine. It may be as simple as walking to and from the shops instead of getting in the car. If you have never exercised or haven’t for a while, it needn’t take much effort to get started. After all, doing some physical activity is better than doing none at all. Even doing a little more exercise than usual can help reduce your risk of certain long-term health conditions.
Barriers to exercise
Sticking to a regular exercise schedule isn't easy. After all, there are plenty of potential hindrances — time, boredom, injuries, self-confidence. But these issues don't need to stand in your way. Consider practical strategies for overcoming common barriers to fitness.
'I don’t have enough time' - sometimes you’ll find that there is just too much going on in your life to find time to exercise, whether it’s with work or family problems.
- Try short walks – if you don’t have time for a full work out, why not try short walks throughout the day. 3 x10 minute walks will add up to the daily amount of exercise you should be doing.
- Wake up earlier – if you’re too busy during the day and the evening, why not try to get up earlier and go for a walk, run or go the gym for a session or class?
- Count your steps – start wearing a stepometer to measure how many steps you do throughout the day and give yourself a goal. Remember 10,000 steps are the amount you should be doing to maintain your weight.
'I’m too Tired' - after working all day, you’ll sometimes find that you are just too tired to even think of doing exercise. But did you know that most of the time the tiredness you feel after working is due to mental fatigue. Getting yourself up and active is one of the best things you can do.
- Try a morning dose of exercise – get up half an hour earlier and go for a brisk walk or run before you start your day.
- Make lunchtime count – use your lunchtime to take part in a group walk, or head to the gym for a quick 30 minute session.
'Exercise is boring' -it’s natural to get bored of the same workout day after day, especially when you’re going it alone. But exercise doesn’t have to be boring.
- Vary your routine - rotate among several activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling, to keep you on your toes while conditioning different muscle groups.
- Explore new options - learn new skills while getting in a workout. Check out exercise classes or sports leagues available.
- Join forces - exercise with friends, relatives or co-workers. You'll enjoy the company and the encouragement of exercising in a group.
'I’m self-conscious about how I look' - anyone can feel a little nervous about exercising in public if they haven't done it in a while, but we all have to start somewhere.
- Try avoiding the crowds - if you're uncomfortable exercising around others, go solo at first. Try working out at home, with an exercise DVD or download an app on your phone. Consider investing in a piece of home exercise equipment like a treadmill, cross trainer or stationary bike.
- Lose the paranoia – do you feel like everyone’s looking at you in the gym? Well they’re not.People often find that they feel paranoid whilst exercising, but people aren’t interested in what you’re doing.
- Get help from a trainer - Sometimes having a few sessions with a professional is all you need to increase your confidence to exercise regularly. Whether it’s to show you how to perform certain exercises, or to get you believing in your body’s abilities, hiring a personal trainer may be the perfect solution to overcoming workout self-consciousness.
Nutrition and healthy eating
The amount and type of food you eat has a major influence on your health. If you eat a well-balanced diet, it can reduce your risk of various diseases as well as help you to maintain a healthy weight. There are certain times when it can be particularly important to make sure that you follow a healthy diet, for instance, if you want to lose excess weight or if you’re watching what you eat because you’re pregnant. However, it’s important to eat a healthy diet throughout your life, no matter what age you are – there’s never a bad time to make some changes and improve your eating habits.
Why is healthy eating important?
There is good evidence that eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of obesity and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. The food you eat contains several different types of nutrients, which are all required for the many vital processes in your body. Key nutrients in your diet include the following;
- Carbohydrates provide you with energy.
- Proteins are another source of energy and essential for the growth and repair of all tissues in your body.
- Fats are a very concentrated source of energy and also have a number of other roles, including helping to transport essential vitamins around your body.
- Vitamins and minerals are important to keep your body healthy and functioning.
- Another important element of your diet is fibre. Fibre isn’t classed as a nutrient, but it’s essential to keep your digestive system healthy and certain types of fibre can help to control your blood cholesterol levels.
What is a balanced diet?
You need to eat a range of foods to get all of the nutrients and fibre your body needs. The five main food groups are:
- starchy foods, which include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes
- fruit and vegetables
- milk and other dairy foods
- meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- foods high in fat or sugar
Eat the right balance of foods from these groups to make sure your body gets all it needs to stay healthy.