Anyone who does regular exercise will tell you how great it makes them feel.
But most South Africans do not get the exercise they need for a healthy body.
Our culture of driving from our home to our destination even removes the physical activity of walking.
Making regular exercise part of your daily routine can improve the quality of your life and you can live longer and be more active for longer.
All that is required is 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week.
This can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The heart is a muscle, and like all muscles in our body it needs to be used or it will become weaker.
When we exercise, our heart works harder and becomes stronger as a result.
Benefits of Exercise
Regular exercise not only keeps your heart in good shape, it keeps your whole body in good shape and promotes maintenance of a healthy weight.
Your body is better able to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and stress levels.
Exercise promotes the release of endorphins which make you feel happy and relaxed.
How to start an exercise programme
First make a commitment to making regular exercise part of your daily routine.
Put aside the excuses that you are too busy or you can’t afford to join a gym.
Exercise can be as simple as taking a brisk 30 minute walk in the morning or evening.
If you feel unsafe walking alone, join a group or get some friends involved.
NB: If you have a heart condition, speak to your doctor about the kinds of activity that are suitable for you.
Build up gradually and don’t overdo it. You should always consult a doctor before exercising if you haven’t exercised before or have any of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Here are some great ways to start your new active lifestyle.
• Put on some music and decide to do some housework like cleaning out cupboards. Bend up to reach high cupboards and then bend down to get to the low ones. Use canned food as weights and do a few reps while you clean and dance - who cares!? Nobody is watching.
• Mow your lawn or do a little weeding, rake leaves and you’ll have exercised and have a beautiful garden too.
• Make an early morning walk or an after dinner walk part of your daily routine instead of sitting in front of the TV. Slowly build up your distance as you progress.
• Walk to the shops instead of driving.
• Take your dog with you. The joy they get from a good walk will spur you on. And they won’t have the energy to chew your shoes when you get back!
• Don’t take the closest parking to your destination. Park a little further away and walk the rest of the way.
Sitting at a desk all day is not doing your heart or your butt any favours. Get moving and feel the difference.
• Instead of sitting at a co-workers desk to have a discussion, suggest a walk.
• Use headphones and walk around while talking on the phone.
• Walk around the office and spend a little time with everyone instead of sending an e-mail.
• Take the stairs instead of the lift. Or get off a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.
• If you have time to spare at an airport, take a walk instead of sitting around.
• Participate in or start a social soccer, real tennis or other sports league at your company.
• Schedule your exercise time like any other important appointment. After all, it is important.
• Take a packed lunch to a local park and have a walking lunch.
Time off should be time to do an activity that gets your heart beating.
• Try joining a dance class or other hobby that involves activity.
• Enter a fun walk, bike race or other event that will force you to train.
• Take a holiday to a scenic place and plan to do some activities (hiking, mountain biking, surfing, swimming, etc.)
• Be a tourist on foot or on a bike - you’ll experience more sights, sounds and smells than in a car and get exercise.
• Instead of meeting friends in the pub, arrange a squash game or a bike ride instead.
• Take a ball or frisbee to the beach and play instead of lazing on a lounger.
• Try hiring a kayak, canoe or a rowboat if you are near water.
• Walk the golf course and leave the cart behind.