We all know that exercising is good for health and that we should all do some form of exercise regularly. However, we do all have busy lives – school, work, kids, family and other obligations. It can therefore be difficult to always find time to work out every day. This, therefore, begs the question: how much exercise is enough exercise?

Further, are there ways in which we can incorporate exercise into part of our daily routine?

According to the UK’s National Health Services (NHS), all adults should do some sort of physical activity every day and that any type of physical activity will have some measure of benefit although of course, the more you do, the better it will be for you.

It recommends various options to help you ensure that you meet your exercise quota in order to stay healthy.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

According to the NHS, adults should:

  • aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still
  • do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week
  • do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
  • reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.

You can also achieve your weekly activity target with:

  • several short sessions of very vigorous intensity activity
  • a mix of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity

You can do your weekly target of physical activity on a single day or over 2 or more days. Whatever suits you.

What constitutes moderate activity?

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities:

  • brisk walking
  • water aerobics
  • cycling
  • dancing
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • rollerblading
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

What constitutes vigorous activity?

Vigorous-intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort.

Examples of vigorous activities:

  • running
  • fast swimming
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • walking up the stairs
  • sports, like football, rugby, netball and hockey
  • skipping rope
  • aerobics
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts

What constitutes very vigorous activity?

Very vigorous activities are exercises performed in short bursts of maximum effort broken up with rest.

This type of exercise is also known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Examples of very vigorous activities:

  • lifting heavy weights
  • circuit training
  • sprinting up hills
  • interval running
  • running up stairs
  • spinning classes

Building up strength and muscles

While it is important to get your heart rate moving and to introduce movement into your life, it is also important to maintain and build up your muscles.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether you’re at home or in a gym.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:

  • carrying heavy shopping bags
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • taichi
  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • wheeling a wheelchair
  • lifting and carrying children

The low down

Looking at the above, it is clear that we can introduce exercise as we go about our daily lives. For example, we can walk, run or cycle to work or to run our errands. While out on a short walk, we can carry our toddlers instead of taking the pram or buggy. Instead of taking the lift, we can climb the stairs. Get creative!

The best way to get exercise is to build it into our daily routines!

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