Exercise really is great for mind, body, and soul. In fact, 30 mins a day, five days per week of moderate exercise is recommended for a healthy lifestyle. And that doesn’t have to be 30 mins spent in the gym, it’s just 30 mins spent moving and increasing your heart rate.
Most people know that exercise is good for them. But do they understand how good? There are so many health benefits to exercise, from physical appearance, to disease prevention, to improving mental health – some of these benefits may even be felt instantly.
So what are some of the benefits of regular exercise?
The list of benefits is long but here are some of the most important ones:
Reduces the risk of some cancers including colon, breast, uterine, and lung cancer.
Helps keep your mind sharp and reduces the risk of dementia.
Improves your chances for a longer life.
Reduces the risk of heart disease.
Helps your body maintain blood sugar and insulin levels, therefore reducing the risk of diabetes.
Helps lower cholesterol levels.
Helps you manage your weight better.
Strengthens bones, muscles, and joints – lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
Increases your “feel good” hormones – endorphins – and reduces your stress hormones – cortisol – helping to improve your moods and relieve stress. This can help to manage or improve depression and anxiety.
It can improve sleep patterns.
You’ll feel better.
Physical activity guidelines
Ok, so the experts say around 30 mins of exercise a day but what does that mean and how easy is it to fit into your day? Well, the answer is very easy.
Depending on your current level of daily activity, there are some simple things you can do to increase your movements throughout the day. As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended that we should walk 10,000 steps (or more) each day. This may sound like a lot but for a moderate walker, it’s about 100 mins or 1 hour 40 mins.
Simple changes such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, or walking around when you’re using the phone can help. Then have a think of where you can swap using your car or other form of transport (apart from a push bike) with walking, like taking the children to school or walking to work. If you live too far away from either the school or work to walk there, simply getting off the bus one or two stops early can help to increase your steps for the day.
Establishing an exercise routine
First thing’s first, if you’re just starting out on your exercise routine, you’ll need to visit the doctor for a health check – especially if you’re 45 years and older. If you’re not used to strenuous exercise, this health check can help detect any problems which might put you at risk of injury. Then, once you’re sure that you’re in good shape, it’s time to start.
The key things to establishing a routine are forward planning and creating habits:
Plan and set realistic goals – start with an achievable goal. For instance, if you’ve never run further than five steps, your goal could be to run 5kms. Then once you’ve set a goal, make a plan for how it’s going to happen e.g. start with short runs of a minute or so and gradually build it up until you can run for 5kms continuously. There are lots of apps out there to help you begin.
Make it a habit – general opinion is that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Now, we’re not saying that timeframe is absolutely correct but as with anything, if you do it enough it’ll eventually become like second nature. So just get running or walking or riding, whatever it is you’re doing, just start doing it.
What type of exercise suits me
There are four basic types of exercise:
This includes things like walking, running, swimming, bike riding, spin, an aerobics class etc. Anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder is considered a cardiovascular workout.
Strength or resistance
Weight lifting, push ups, sit ups etc. Anything that uses resistance – like a dumbbell or your own body weight – is increasing your lean muscle mass.
These types of exercise improve your ability to control and stabalise your body which is especially important as you get older – as balance tends to get worse with age. Pilates is a great type of balance exercise.
Regularly stretching your muscles can improve their flexibility and also the range of motion at your joints. By doing this you reduce the risk of injury not only during sports but also during the day-to-day.
Ideally you should try and incorporate all four of these types of exercise into your routine. Thankfully, this doesn’t always mean you have to go to four separate classes/workouts as some types of exercise combine a few of them in one go. For instance, yoga is a combination of strength, flexibility, and balance. Whereas HIIT (High intensity interval training) can combine cardio and strength – even some flexibility.
The most important thing to do before undertaking any exercise routine, is to speak to a health professional – especially if you are starting from zero exercise. They can help you determine which type of exercise to concentrate on and guide you in how to start and build up your levels of fitness.
Once you’ve spoken to your health professional and you feel ready to get moving, there are lots of online resources to help you decide where to begin. In fact, the government’s Health Direct website is a great place to start.
Earn Qantas Points while you exercise
Whether it’s your exercise routine or just walking the dog, if it’s something you’re doing most days, why not be rewarded with more than the health benefits? The Qantas Wellbeing App lets you earn Qantas Points for your everyday activities, like walking, cycling, and even sleeping . Simply download the Qantas Wellbeing App (if you haven’t already), sync with your device and get started.
Be rewarded for your overall health
You might be considering health insurance as another part of your overall healthcare. Qantas Health Insurance offers a range of products to suit your needs, plus you’ll be rewarded with Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium . Click the button below to get a quote and see how rewarding health insurance could be.