In part 1 of eat smart move more we shared the key tips around nutrition and how focusing on some key aspects can not only make a huge difference to your health, but also set up the mindset of our future generations. As well as sharing some myth busters with you, we also shared the statistics and facts on how our nutrition and exercise habits are having an impact on obesity rates. So if you’ve come from there we hope you enjoyed it, and if you haven’t yet checked it out go and take a look now to complete the eat smart and move more series.
Today we are going to look at the other side of things: Moving more. As Nike famously say “Just Do It”! So many of us procrastinate when it comes to doing exercise (We can certainly be guilty of this if we are having one of those days) but if we can adopt the approach of “Just Do It” not only would we experience the benefits, we would also get the urge to keep doing more.
So let us cover how we can get going with moving more, the benefits that we can expect to see and exactly what we can do. Let’s start with understanding what we mean by moving more: Quite simply we need to get out bodies moving (this could be something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift) and burn some calories. In order for you to maintain a healthy weight you need to ensure that the calories you consume do not exceed the calories that you burn, we find that this is always a good basis to work from.
First things first
It is recommended by WHO (World Health Organisation) that “Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.”
(It is important to note that these recommendations are based on adults with no underlying health issues)
Before you read on, let’s just stop here for a moment and process this as there’s a lot of information in that. Firstly, you can make up those totals in whatever way works best for you, so for example, you could make up the 150 minutes with 5 sessions of 30 minutes throughout the week. Straight away when you look at it like that it feels more realistic doesn’t it. We know that if we only have to complete short workouts we are much more likely to do them than to think we have to set aside masses of time, which, especially since having a little one, can be really difficult. There is also a lot of talk in there about intensity…. We will get to that!
Before we move on, we just want to include the recommendations for children in here too. We expressed our passion in part 1 of eat smart move more for creating good habits for future generations, and whilst you may not all be parents who are reading this, some of you will be, and some may also have an influence e.g when babysitting. So let’s think about how we can all make a difference.
Recommendations by WHO:
- Children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
- Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.
- Most of the daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone*, at least 3 times per week.
We will share some examples of the types of exercise for each intensity level, and will also give you some key ways that you can include the children in this.
Let’s take a quick (but very important) look at the benefits we can expect to see as a result of following these recommendations.
Benefits for adults
- Easier to maintain a healthy weight and have good body composition.
- Lower risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, several types of cancer and many more.
- Improved sense of well-being and self-confidence.
- Improved bone density.
- Better balance.
- Helps with maintaining good mental health
Benefits for children
- Maintain a healthy body weight from an early age.
- Sets up good habits around exercise to carry through to adult life.
- Develop a strong cardiovascular fitness level which includes the heart and lungs.
- Develops good muscle and bone strength.
- Promotes motor skills such as coordination.
- Can provide a sense of belonging (e.g if involved in a club or group sport), and can be a great way to interact.
It’s all about the intensity
So as we can see in the recommendations, there is a lot of focus on the intensity that we are exercising at, but how do you know if you are working at the right level? We will give you an idea of some of the exercises that fall in to each category, but obviously it will very much depend on your current fitness level. A great way to understand if you are working at the correct intensity better is to understand your heart rate zones and targets.
Moderate intensity activity
The best way to think of moderate activity is to think about doing something that will raise your heart rate, make you feel a little warmer and increase your breathing. You should however still find that you can hold a conversation whilst doing this.
Examples of activities include:
- Walking (This may need to be at a brisk pace, but again will depend on your fitness)
- Tennis (This would tend to be doubles)
These all apply to children and are all easy for them to partake in. Another good one to include in there could be a game of throw and catch.
Vigorous intensity activity
The best way to think of Vigorous activity would be something that makes you breathe hard and fast and possibly sweat. Whereas if you were working at a moderate level you would be able to hold a conversation, this isn’t the case if you are working vigorously, and you may find you can say no more than a few words without needing to pause for a moment.
Examples of vigorous activities:
- Any of the moderate exercises, but with increased intensity
- Sports such as football, rugby, netball and hockey
- Martial arts
- Singles tennis
Again, these all apply and are appropriate for children. Some other examples would be anything that includes running and chasing such as a game of tag. You could even bring out your inner child and join them on this!
Should I try to work at a moderate level or vigorous level?
This is your choice and comes down to your abilities and fitness level. Completing any one of them whilst following the timing guidelines will produce very similar results in terms of health benefits, so our suggestion would be to go with the activities that you enjoy the most and you are able to complete. Remember, this is about lifestyle, not a short term health and fitness goal. Ultimately you need to be the judge as to what intensity you are working at, but if you follow the descriptions this will help to give you a good idea as to if you are at the correct rate.
Develop muscle and bone strength
Part of your exercise time can be made up of exercises to strengthen your muscles and bones. It is actually recommended that you complete these exercises 3 times per week. So you can see how a nice routine can start to form from the exercises above and these type of exercises in order to achieve your minutes required each week.
To get health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you need a short rest before repeating the exercise. Judge your intensity level based on the descriptions above.
Many people think that in order to do these type of exercises you need to be able to have access to the gym, but the beauty is that that can be completed at home too.
Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:
- Exercises that use your own body weight, such as squats, press-ups, sit ups etc
- Exercises using resistance bands
- Weight lifting
- Heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
- Lifting and carrying children (we can definitely vouch for this!)
For children, exercises that are great to support their bone and muscle development include:
- Games such as tug of war
- Hopping, skipping, jumping
- Climbing on playground equipment
- Games such as hopscotch
Do a little more every day
We appreciate that you may be reading this and for whatever reason, but it illness, fitness level, weight, injury, you may be thinking that you are not yet in a position where you are able to complete the above recommendations. If that is the case then there is nothing to worry about, our recommendation would be for you to take the approach of doing a little more every day, and perhaps having those guidelines as something you can work up towards.
Examples of doing a little more each day include:
- Sitting less
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift
- Walking if possible instead of taking the car or bus
It’s too good not to do
So hopefully we have outlined the key ways that you can move more and ensure you are following the recommendations set out for us all to work towards. It cannot be denied that the benefits definitely outweighs the urge to not do anything, so let’s take the Nike approach and let’s fly towards a healthier and fitter version of us… Just Do It!
We would love to hear if you have any other ways that you ensure you meet the recommendations, and as always, if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch,
Here’s to a happier, healthier and fitter world!