More people are facing health complications due to sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles than ever before in history. With this upsurge, the terms ‘exercise’ and ‘simply staying physically active’ are also getting more important than ever before too! When we discuss this issue with our members and readers, we noticed one overwhelming trend. Many of them use ‘exercise’ and ‘staying physically active’ interchangeably! But that’s not exactly what we believe to be true.
We don’t think exercising and being simply physically active are the same. In this article, we’ll explain what exercise is, what are the benefits of it, and what is the risk of not doing it. We’ll also give some tips to help you find the best exercise routine for you. Let’s begin!
What is Exercise?
Exercising is a planned and structured physical activity that someone follows to maintain their physical and mental health and fitness. Exercise can be done in many more ways than you can possibly imagine. Regardless of whether you only do light workouts, or push yourself hard with heavy exercise, you will feel the health benefits for sure.
On the other hand, staying physically active can be as simple as washing dishes or playing with kids.
Yes, simple physical activity is better than a completely sedentary lifestyle. But, to lead a healthy life with a robust immune system, there is no alternative to exercising regularly.
Types of Exercise
Here are some common types of exercise.
- Aerobic Exercise: The core of any exercise. This helps you improve your oxygen flow through the body by increasing the heart rate. Running, swimming, and dancing are some excellent examples of aerobic exercise.
- Anaerobic Exercise: Follow this exercise if your goal is to build strength in muscle groups. This type of activity uses blood glucose to produce energy instead of oxygen. Example: heavy weightlifting, sprinting, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).
- Calisthenics Exercise: Done solely with body-weight and without any additional gym equipment. Example: sit-ups, push-ups, handstands, and lunges.
- Stability Exercise: Physical activity focused on improving muscle strength and enhancing body coordination, like tai chi poses and pilates. For better stability, resistance training is also a good example. This type of training enhances muscle strength, stability and rigidity.
- Flexibility Exercise: Focused on improving muscle recovery, maintains the mobility and motion of your muscle. An example of this is yoga.
Benefits of Exercising and Risk of Not Exercising
Here are some scientifically proven benefits of regular exercise you should know:
- It makes you happy. Structured physical activity has proven to lighten up your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
- It helps with weight loss. Studies confirmed that physical inactivity is one of the primary reasons for excessive weight gain. Exercise gives you the chance to burn extra calories and lose weight.
- It allows muscle to absorb amino acids and let the body grow by producing growth hormone.
- Increases energy levels and can heal different medical conditions. With proper exercise routines, you won’t get tired quickly as you used to.
- Reduces the risk of chronic and non-communicable diseases. Due to lassitude, the Thais face the regular threat of heat and non-communicable diseases, which is the reason for 7 out of 10 death in Thailand. Losing extra weight and keeping blood flow at optimal level, through exercise, ensures you have a robust immune system.
- Exercise improves skin health and prevents premature aging. Oxidative stress can lead your skin to decay sooner than it should.
- Exercising regularly will help you create antioxidants and protect your skin.
- It enriches your immune system, sharpens memory, and improves critical thinking skills. This is what we need in our day to day lives – you name it: school, university, at the office, everywhere.
- After a long workday, all you want a good night’s sleep, right? Regular exercises will let you enjoy a more peaceful, deeper sleep.
- Regular physical activity improves sex life by producing better blood circulation and improving the cardiovascular system.
- Exercise reduces pain, like back pain, chronic pain, and increases pain tolerance levels.
So, what are the risks of not exercising and leading a sedentary lifestyle?
“NCDs kill more Thais than anything else – this is why they a major priority for WHO’s work with the government”- Dr. Daniel Kertesz, WHO representative of Thailand.
Globally 17.7 million people die each year from cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack and stroke. Other NCDs or non-communicable conditions responsible for death include cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and Type 2 diabetes. Numerous studies confirmed that proper diet and regular exercise reduce the risk of NCDs.
After knowing all these wonderful benefits and horrifying risks, perhaps you’re thinking about how you can start exercising. That’s what we’ll cover in the next part. But, it’s important to know the types of physical fitness first as it will help you to develop your routine effectively.
Types of Physical Fitness
Experts segregate physical fitness into five major components. They are;
Cardiovascular endurance is the ability to keep up while running, swimming, jogging, cycling, and any other heavy-duty jobs that ask your cardiovascular system to stay awake for an extended period. High cardiovascular endurance reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by keeping your heart rate and blood pressure stable all the time.
Muscular strength is what you, I, and any individual needs. It’s the power, the force of carrying and lifting heavy objects. For improving muscular strength capabilities, you can follow resistance training and strength training with a personal trainer’s guidance.
If your muscles get to perform for an extended time, then your muscle endurance is at its best. Otherwise, you have to work on your muscle mass and muscle endurance to improve it. Muscular endurance reduces the risk of injury and strengthens bone and muscle.
Body Fat Composition
Body fat composition indicates the fat amount in your body. An average man has about 18 – 24% of fat, whereas women usually have around 25 – 31% fat. Anything more than that is considered overweight.
Healthy weight and body fat composition rate help prevent various diseases like heart attack, diabetes, cancer, etc., and increases life expectancy.
Flexibility is one of the essential components of physical fitness, and this activity it is often overlooked. Without the right amount of flexibility, your body joints and muscles don’t work as best they could. Some practical flexibility exercises are cat-cow stretch, back extension, bridge stretch, etc.
Pro Tip: 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week is considered good enough to prevent many health related issues.
How to Start Exercising
It may feel not easy in the beginning, but what we’d recommend is to start slow. Consider following these tips and advice:
Check Your Current Fitness Level
First, check your current health status with proper medical examinations. The health information will help to identify any medical condition that should be addressed before starting routine exercise.
Check-up is mandatory for older adults. An early checkup will detect the health problems and conditions that should be considered while preparing the routine.
Have Realistic Goals
Once you decided to start exercising, don’t look back. Come up with a plan that’s suitable for you and, most importantly, which you can achieve. Work out how often and how intense you want to exercise as a starting point, then increase from there.
Starting with small steps and goals, like 20-30 minutes of light stretching, if you don’t want to start out too hardcore from the very beginning. Gradually improve exercise intensity and workout length as your fitness level improves.
Exercise at Your Own Pace
No two people are the same. Keep this in mind and adjust your routine accordingly. Going too fast may lead to injuries; going too slow may hamper progress. It’s better to fix a regular time and start exercising at that time with achievable targets.
Enjoy the Moment
One of the best ways to make physical activities fruitful is to enjoy them. If you love your workout routine, it’ll always encourage you to continue and even to do more! To make exercise fun, choose a type of exercise program you love to do, join the gym with your friends, go cycling with groups, or join your preferred fitness clubs.
Choose a Personal Trainer
It’s pretty common for a beginner to be intimidated by the flood of information on the best ways to stay fit. If you feel the same too, then a personal trainer might just be your savior.
After assessing your overall condition and goals, a trainer will educate you, motivate, and guide you during your workouts. Moreover, a personal trainer will share the fitness rules, other than exercise, for you to follow to keep your dedication level high.
Make it a habit
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency.” – Dwayne Johnson
Consistency is everything in staying healthy and fit. Make sure you follow your exercise routine regularly, no matter what.
Once it becomes a habit, then you won’t need to ring a bell in your head. There will be days when you don’t feel like exercising, and you have other works to do. But you need to try to forget about distractions and hit the gym.
Properly planed routine exercise can take your fitness to a well-balanced and healthy body form in every aspect. We hope this guide will help you understand the basics of exercise, types of exercise, regular exercise benefits and risks of not doing it, components to consider while designing the routine and how to start and continue exercising correctly. Isn’t it time you started your workout?