The importance of Exercise
Exercise is a vital part of any lifestyle plan and will not only help you achieve your goals quicker but it will help you maintain your target weight. The amount of energy you burn depends on a number of factors:
- your weight: you burn more if you are heavier
- your fitness level: the fitter the greater the energy burn
- the type of exercise
- the exercise intensity
The benefits of exercise are:
- It reduces stress
- Increases happy hormone production
- Improves sleep
- Improves confidence and mobility
- Helps to speed up your metabolism
NOTE: As you exercise and get fitter you are likely to want to exercise more! Secondly your weight becomes less relevant as your body composition changes and you burn fat and develop more lean muscle.
(Be sure to check with a qualified medical professional before you embark on any exercise program and seek out well qualified instructors. Buy the best footwear you can afford)
Here are some tips:
- Do something you really enjoy
- Start slow and build gradually
- Make a plan
- Stick to it!
- Combine cardio with strength/resistance training
Be aware that very intense levels of cardio training early can burn muscle as well as fat. Whilst cardio is generally better for energy burn, strength training actually increases your metabolism meaning you burn fat for longer even while you sleep.
We recommend 30 minutes of walking per day to begin with. Add strength training three times a week to build muscle and complement the cardio.
Harvard University in the US has compiled a useful chart showing calorie burn for different forms of exercise. It’s a useful guide. Click on the Harvard University link – it will open in a new tab meaning you can have this page open as well as the exercise guide and compare.
Here are a few exercise suggestions:
Running has become a very popular passion for many in the last thirty years. Whether your running is recreational, marathon training or track and field it is excellent exercise and for the most part free. It is high impact on the body and so it’s essential to develop a strong core and wear high quality running shoes.
Swimming is a great low impact exercise which is great for the whole body. (When you can get near a pool!).
As exercises go it is also at the higher end of the energy burn scale and typically accounts for about 300 calories per half hour depending on how vigorously you swim.
Although the image shows a gym, free weights are a great form of resistance/strength training which complements and really helps weight loss. It is easy to practice this at home as well as the gym. If you don’t have free weights use small bottles of water or tins of beans!
Another great form of exercise which is gaining popularity with cycling clubs springing up everywhere. Cycling can be recreational, off road or more formal in a club.
Depending on how vigorous your cycling style, one hour of cycling burns around 600 calories.
The great thing about resistance band training is the fact that the equipment is very cheap, very effective and very portable. You can almost train anywhere!
To start with you don’t even need bands, because you can work against the resistance of your own body.
Click this link to see our Strength Training Videos.
This activity is not as popular as it once was but it is a great cardio workout which you can practice on the stairs at home!
Be aware this a high impact exercise and you need strong knees, ankles and hips as well as a strong core.
We are fans of these little machines. They are relatively cheap, you can cycle whilst watching TV or at the laptop and they tend to burn 10 calories per minute. So two 25 minute sessions per day utilises 500 cals which many are targeted for their weight loss plan.
Pilates is an excellent low impact exercise which helps you develop a strong core, flattens your tummy and tones your body generally. It is great for flexibility and is also excellent for balance and joint strength.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originate from ancient India. There are many types of Yoga but the most commonly practised style is Hatha Yoga. The discipline of Yoga incorporates both physical exercise with mindfulness. The benefits of Yoga are many but include; better posture and flexibility, weight loss, improved body tone, stress relief, increased energy, a better body image and improved sleep. Like Pilates (the two have a lot in common) classes are often taught in small groups. Once taught you can practise anywhere!
Gyms and gym classes seem to be springing up everywhere! So if this is for you there’s no reason not to go. The range of equipment in most gyms now is amazing! It’s come a long way from just pumping iron. It is vital that you get proper instruction on how to use the equipment to prevent injury. Seek out good trainers.
*** See also our Links page for YouTube workout links.
Walking is great exercise and it’s recommended that we all walk at least 30 minutes a day. Dog owners tend to live longer! The great thing is of course that it’s free and low impact. It’s also a great de-stressor for the mind.
Team sports are great physical exercise undertaken in a competitive environment. Great for mindfulness, achievement and good socially too!