What are you currently doing for exercise?

With Exercise Right Week just around the corner, Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymble, and Balmain take a look at different ways to understand and be aware of your current physical activity, as well as to assess if it is doing the best thing for your health.

We have all heard that exercise has copious amounts of benefits for physical and mental health. However, there is very little we hear about how to go about doing exercise or what to do specifically. Exercise is extremely multi-faceted, variable and can bear risks to the individual if not undertaken properly—just like medicine. Given at least 1 in 2 Australians have at least 1 chronic health condition in their lifetime, it is especially important that everyone is aware of exercise, its benefits and how it should be done for not only ourselves but our friends and family members alike.

The first question we should be asking ourselves is:

What are we exercising for?

Given the plethora of evidence out there on the benefits of exercise regardless of whether you’re healthy, have a chronic condition or injury, the question isn’t whether or not you should exercise, but rather WHY you are exercising. Are you doing strength training to maintain muscle mass and bone mineral density to counter diseases such as osteopenia? Are you doing balance exercises to increase mobility and walk up and down stairs easier? Are you performing cardio exercise to improve heart function to fight against heart disease? Asking this question to ourselves helps align what we’re doing with our health goals. Remember also that our goals need to SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. Exercise needs to have a clear purpose behind it not only to give us things to track, monitor and achieve, but also because this will help clarify exactly what kind of exercise to do. This then leads us onto the next question:

Are you doing the right amount/type of exercise?

We have talked about the FITT principles of exercise in our previous blogs: Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. These will all be different depending on the individual, their exercise experience, any health conditions and/or injuries. Generally speaking however, everyone should be aiming for the exercise guidelines published by the ACSM and CDC:

For all adults:
≥150 minutes of moderate intensity OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming)
≥2 sessions of resistance training that each target all major muscle groups
– Older adults with poor mobility should perform exercise aimed at improving balance and preventing falls on ≥3 days of the week

For additional health benefits:
– 300 minutes of moderate intensity OR 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming)

For children and adolescents:
60 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity exercise EVERY DAY
2-3 days of muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activity (e.g. jumping, climbing, gymnastics, calisthenics, guided weight training)

All too commonly do we see people struggling to see results, despite already exercising. If this sounds a lot like you, have a think about the exercise you’re doing currently—is it right for you? If you aren’t sure of the answer, it may be wise to consult with an exercise physiologist to see if you what’s appropriate for you.

Take a look at this table below: are you able to put sort your exercise regime in the columns with the 4 categories?

Frequency Intensity Time Type

Where are you at with your exercise journey?

We know that it can be quite difficult to achieve the guidelines mentioned above, especially for people who are limited by health conditions, injuries or experience. For some populations, reaching those numbers may not be realistic. This is where an exercise physiologist is able to guide you, in regards to what exercise is appropriate for you.

It is also important to acknowledge that sticking to an exercise routine is inherently tricky, due to issues such as motivation, self-limiting beliefs and external barriers getting in the way. This is where it is useful to know about the stages of behaviour change and determine which one you’re standing at:

1) Pre-contemplation – considering change

2) Contemplation – acknowledging the benefits of change

3) Preparation stage – acknowledging the benefits of change

4) Action stage – ready for change

5) Maintenance – maintaining change

6) Relapse – falling back to old patterns of behaviour

For more detail on each stage, have a read of our previous blog on the stages of behavioural change.

It can be overwhelming and difficult to assess your exercise yourself without the guidance of a professional. It some cases, doing things incorrectly could even lead to health detriments or unwanted flare-ups of conditions. Here at Longevity, our Exercise Physiologists will be able to help assess your current level of exercise and determine exactly what is appropriate for your health.

Written by Jackie Cheung

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