People who exercise are generally healthier and remain active for longer as they age.
The benefits of regular physical activity include:
- more energy
- improved confidence and self-esteem
- better circulation
- better sleep
- reduced tension and stress
- lower risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure
- reduced risk of developing type II diabetes and some cancers
- help build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
- reduced risk of injury
- improved muscle tone
- releasing the feel-good hormones through your body to make you feel better about life and yourself.
Physical activity guidelines
- Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience. Get off the bus one stop early; don’t spend five minutes driving around a car park trying to save yourself a one-minute walk.
- Be active every day in as many ways as you can. Take the stairs, walk short distances instead of driving, ride a bike more often.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. At the very minimum, aim for three days a week. It is okay to do several blocks of short activity that add up to 30 minutes in one day.
- If you can, also enjoy some regular, vigorous activity for extra health and fitness (see aerobic fitness below).
This is the most important element of your total fitness – it’s how well your heart and lungs provide oxygen to your body. Measuring your heart rate when exercising is an effective way of ensuring you are working hard enough to reach your fitness goals.
How to measure your heart rate
You can check your pulse at your neck or your wrist.
- On your neck, place your index and third fingers to the side of your windpipe. When you feel your pulse, look at your watch and count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to get your heart rate per minute.
- On your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon on the thumb side of your wrist. When you feel the pulse, look at your watch and count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to get your heart rate per minute.
To calculate your exercise target zone for your age, you must first know your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate = 220 minus your age.
I don’t have time to exercise
That’s no excuse! There are 336 half-hour blocks in a week. Even after you take out sleep and work, there are still about 140 potential 30 minute blocks left. All you need to do is find at least three x 30 minute blocks and you’re on your way to better health.