All examples of physical activity and exercise are general in nature, and do not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether any information is appropriate to your situation. If you are unsure about the applicability of any physical activity or exercise information or advice, please mention it at your next appointment at Edgeworth Osteopathy.
Physical activity is important for all people of all ages. From babies, to children, to adults, to elderly, physical activity keeps us moving, fit and healthy. Physical activity is not just organised or structured exercise. It is everything we do that involves moving our body using our skeletal muscles¹. Gardening, mowing the lawns, running, playing tennis - all count as physical activity.
Walking is a great example of physical activity that most of us do every day, but for many of us we don't do as much as we feel we should. And for some people, it is not so simple. How much is enough? How much is too much? What if you can't walk? What if walking hurts?
Aim for at least 20mins a day. Ideally achieve this all in one go, rhythmically, and not in a stop-start fashion common for many people at work. There is no maximum amount of walking.
If walking hurts, book an appointment to examine the reasons why. Many of the aches and pains that keep us from walking can be treated, getting you back to moving and feeling better. In some cases walking, although it may hurt, may be the best thing for treating the underlying condition, so it is important to get a proper diagnosis - if you stop because of pain you may actually be making things worse.
Structured physical activity is a good way to ensure you look after your body. Setting aside (or making) specific time for exercise is a vital part of maintenance, management and improvement of your body and health. Aim for three sessions a week of 30-60mins duration. Do a variety of cardiovascular, strength and resistance exercise, as these all benefit in different ways and for different reasons.
If you struggle with motivation (and don't we all at times!) then find a friend to exercise with. The positive peer pressure can go both ways, with you keeping them on track just as much as they do for you.
Swimming is my most commonly prescribed exercise. Working both the upper and lower body, as well as being great cardio, swimming is a great all-round exercise. One of the great benefits of swimming is that it is low impact, and as such can be much easier on the joints than land exercises. It is a great resistance exercise - water is far more resistant than air - which means it is a great exercise for burning energy, and making the body work harder (which is what you want for cardiovascular exercise). And best of all, Newcastle has some of the best beaches in the world² where you can swim for free!
A good place to start is doing laps for 20mins, twice a week. Count how many laps you can do in this time, and aim to gradually increase the number over a period of months. If you cannot manage 20mins, start with what you can manage, and aim to add 30sec to a minute each time you swim until you reach 20mins. For more specific advice tailored to your personal situation, we can work out a plan for you at your next appointment.
Cardiovascular exercise ("cardio") can be one of the most underutilised forms of exercise at both a professional and casual level. The heart is a muscle, and as such can be trained like any other muscle in the body to become stronger, healthier, and work more efficiently. The heart pumps blood to all parts of the body - which includes oxygen, and all the nutrients required for growth and repair. Without sufficient blood flow, training and exercise of muscles will be less effective. Thus it is vital to do cardio exercise as the key to improving performance in any sport, weight training, fitness exercise, and pretty much anything that involves moving the body.
Aim for 2-3 sessions a week of 20-30mins. My top picks for cardio are swimming, rowing machine, cycling and running. Also cross trainer, skipping (jump rope) and many other forms of exercise will provide excellent cardio. If you are unsure what may be suitable for you, your body type, or any injuries you may have, bring it up at your next appointment.
As with swimming, if you cannot manage the length of time or number of sessions, begin with what you can do, and aim to increase this by pushing yourself a little bit more each session. For example if you can do 6mins on the rowing machine, the next time you row, knowing that you are capable of 6mins, at the 6min mark push yourself to do another few seconds. If you can do 6:05, the next time you know not to stop at 6:00, and instead your new minimum is 6:05, aiming for 6:10... and so on. You will notice over the course of a few weeks your baseline time will gradually increase. Soon you will be passing 6:00 without breaking a sweat! And when 30mins becomes too easy, you can increase the resistance!
²Views expressed may not reflect the views of the entire world.
"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it."
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