By: Dr Maria Clapperton
What is Physical Activity?
Physical Activity is any form of movement of the body that uses energy.
Dancing, brisk walking, gardening and doing daily chores around the home are just some common examples of physical activity.
Insufficient amounts of physical activity can lead to increased risk of obesity, diabetes (type2), high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and premature death.
Being physically active can improve your health.
Anyone can improve their level of physical activity, always remember to start low and go slow!
The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you will feel.
Being Physically Active Can Help You To:
⦁ Prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and stroke (the top three health-related causes of death)
⦁ Increase your chances of living longer
⦁ Improve your self-esteem
⦁ Relieve stress and decrease your chances of becoming depressed
⦁ Sleep well at night
⦁ Have more energy and move around more easily
⦁ Have stronger muscles and bones
⦁ Loose weight or maintain a healthy weight
⦁ Spend time with friends and family or meet new people
⦁ Enjoy yourself and have fun
By Not Being Physically Active, You Are More Likely To:
⦁ Get heart disease
⦁ Get type 2 diabetes
⦁ Have high blood pressure
⦁ Have high blood cholesterol
⦁ Have a stroke
⦁ Have increased risk of breast and colon cancer
The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, i.e. at least 30 minutes, five days per week.
There Are Different Types of Physical Activity:
⦁ Aerobic Activities – increase heart rate and breathing and help to burn fat ( at moderate intensity, you can still talk but can’t sing whereas at vigorous intensity, you can only say a few words before stopping to catch your breath)
⦁ Bone Strengthening Activities- make your bones stronger
⦁ Balance and Stretching Activities- improve stability and reduce the risk of falls
Here Are Some Tips to Help You Start Moving Towards Becoming A Healthier You:
⦁ Find ways to add extra steps to your day e.g. park further away and walk to work or to your chosen destination; use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator; at work, find ways to stand more and sit less; when running errands in the neighbourhood, try walking or cycling to get them done.
⦁ Instead of calling friends, take a walk together to chat and catch up.
⦁ Make it family time! Take a walk together and spend time with each other, everyone can go to take the dog for a walk.
⦁ Walk up and down the field while watching your kids play.
⦁ Stop the bus or maxi taxi at least one stop before your intended destination and walk the rest of the way.
⦁ Go for a walk on your lunch break, always have a pair of sneakers packed!
⦁ Don’t just have the couch or bed in front of the TV. If you have exercise equipment at home e.g a bike, move it near the TV so that you can cycle while you watch! If you don’t have any equipment, you can leave a list of quick activities(like jumping jacks, running on the spot, squats, stretches etc.) near the remote so that you can do a few during the commercial breaks
⦁ Wash your car
⦁ Do yard work
⦁ Plant and care for a home vegetable garden( cook your home grown vegetables for a healthy meal)
⦁ Find your inner child, go outside and play with the kids!
⦁ Start your day with a morning stretch or yoga.
⦁ Sign up for a dance class with a friend or join a community sports club or better yet, start a walking group in your neighbourhood.
⦁ Go for a swim
Play it Safe and Reduce Your Risk of Injury:
⦁ Begin slowly with low-intensity activities
⦁ Wear appropriate shoes for your activity
⦁ When exercising, warm up before, and cool down afterward (e.g. stretch)
⦁ Be alert! Pay attention to your surroundings when going outdoors
⦁ Drink water before, during and after, even if you don’t feel thirsty
⦁ Dress appropriately for the weather or opt for an indoor activity if it’s very hot or rainy.
⦁ If you have specific health conditions, discuss your exercise and physical activity plan with your health care provider first for safety
You don’t need to spend any money to increase your levels of physical activity, just find ways to move more everyday and be sure to have lots of FUN!
⦁ World Health Organization, Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/pa/en/
⦁ United States Department of Agriculture, Choose MyPlate.gov, Physical Activity, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-tips
⦁ United States Department of Health and Human Services, Importance of Physical Activity, https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/importance-of-physical-activity/index.html
⦁ Go4Life, National Institute of Health