As osteopaths, we are strong believers in the body’s natural healing abilities. We work to aid your body’s tissues in reaching their optimal state of health. There are a wide range of factors which contribute to your overall wellbeing, with many pertaining to lifestyle habits. Exercise is an extremely important factor in this and has many benefits for your physical and mental health. Today we are going to discuss the many varied benefits of exercise.
How much exercise should you be doing?
According to the National Physical Activity Guidelines in Australia, adults between the ages of 18-64 years should be aiming to ‘be active on most, preferably all days of the week’. Each week it is recommended that you accumulate
- 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity;
- 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity; or
- An equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities.
Alternatively, you can aim to do at least 30 minutes of mild-moderate exercise per day. For adults who have a more sedentary lifestyle, it is recommended that they:
- Minimise the amount of time spent in sedentary positions – e.g. sitting or lying down
- Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible
We understand that life has many demands and that finding the time to exercise can be difficult. If this is the case, try to be opportunistic with your habits. Some ideas include:
- Instead of driving the kids to school or driving to your local supermarket, try walking instead.
- Make an active effort to exercise with your pets daily.
- Go for a walk or a jog on your lunch break.
- Park the car further away from work and walk the rest of the way. This is an easy way to accumulate your recommended daily exercise.
- Encourage your children to play and join in with them. After all, it is your responsibility to nurture active behaviour in your kids!
- Exercise with your children – walking with the pram is a great form of resistance exercise and can help to build strength.
- Wear a pedometer (step counter), calculate your average number of steps per day and aim to increase it on a weekly basis. You may like to keep a diary and record your steps each day. This may function as positive reinforcement or motivation to improve.
- Take as many breaks as possible at work – make an effort to get up and have a drink or go to the bathroom.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift.
- If joining a gym is too expensive or does not interest you, make use of Melbourne’s beautiful open spaces such as parks and walking tracks.
- To save money on buying equipment to use at home, be creative and make small weights out of empty drink bottles filled with rice or canned food.
- If you prefer exercise which is a little gentler, you might like to consider participating in Yoga, Thai Chi or Pilates. These are all fantastic forms of exercise which have a wide range of health benefits.
- Organise a group of friends and participate in group fitness sessions – if you are looking for a gym, personal trainer or group fitness sessions in your area, ask your osteopath for details today!
What are the benefits of regular exercise?
The list is endless! But here are a few important ones
- Lowers blood pressure – regular physical activity promotes ‘good cholesterol’, decreasing your overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
- It can prevent, control or manage a wide range of conditions including, Type II diabetes.
- Weight control. Regular exercise helps to break down carbohydrates to use for energy. If your body has an excess of carbohydrates which do not get used for energy production, they are eventually stored as fat, which may contribute to weight gain.
- Increase in energy levels – regular exercise helps your heart and lungs to function more efficiently. This means your tissues receive a greater amount of oxygen and nutrients, helping you to feel more energised.
- Regular exercise promotes the laying down of new bone, helping to prevent the development of osteoporosis.
- Sleep – physical activity promotes good sleep. Remember the more energy you expend during the day, the more your body will need sleep to recover, making it easier for you to nod off at night.
- Mood elevation and stress relief – physical activity stimulates the release of chemicals and hormones in the brain which leave you feeling relaxed and happy.
- Increase in libido.
- Increase in muscular strength and tone.
- Blood flow – physical activity promotes blood return to your heart and lungs. Venous return relies on muscular contraction, especially in your legs. So get those muscles pumping!
For more information about recommendations for children and elderly and fact sheets about national physical activity guidelines, you can follow the link here: