Now that autumn is in the air, summertime recreational activities such as camping, going to the lake or beach, volleyball, and surfing begin to take a back seat and we look to focus on more prosaic forms of exercise. Strength training activities and cardiorespiratory-based exercise return to the forefront as we gear up for fitting fitness into our daily routines. On the other hand, many of us have taken the summer off as far as exercise is concerned, thinking we have put in a good nine months of activity and we deserve a break! Regardless of what we've been doing over the summer, for all of us the subtle changes in the weather are a reminder that it's time to get our exercise program organized again.
For those of us who admit to thinking, "Oh no, not more exercise!", it's useful to remember that exercise is not only very good for long-term health and well-being, it’s also very beneficial to your immediate health. Regular vigorous exercise helps us sleep better, look better, and feel better. For example, regular vigorous exercise helps people fall asleep. Additionally, the sleep we obtain when we're getting physical activity is much deeper and more restful than otherwise. We wake up refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new day. We have much more energy throughout the day and tend not to experience those mid-afternoon crashes. In terms of looking better, regular vigorous exercise makes your skin glow. Your face becomes brighter and shinier thanks to the increased oxygen supply you're getting. Regular activity also makes you taller owing to restoration of height within your intervertebral discs. As these discs make up approximately 25 percent of the length of your spinal column, you lose overall height if these structures are not fully hydrated. Regular vigorous exercise makes sure you're standing tall. Finally, we just feel better when we're exercising, a result of a regularly replenished supply of endorphins, your body's naturally occurring source of self-satisfaction and well-being.
How Much Exercise Should we be Doing to Reap These Benefits?
Guidelines consistently recommend at least 150 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, most typically obtained as 30 minutes of exercise done five days per week.1 You're not restricted to 30 minutes per day of course. Thirty minutes is an acceptable baseline standard. Overall, people should perform both strength training and cardiorespiratory (aerobic) exercises on a regular basis.2,3 You could do three days of strength training and two days of aerobic exercise some weeks, and two days of strength training and three days of aerobic exercise on alternate weeks. You'll be able to tell how things are going based on how you're feeling. Mostly, you should feel uplifted and invigorated in the hours following a workout. If at some point you begin to be slightly bored and are losing interest in your routines, those are signals to vary what you're doing. Fortunately, there is an abundance of exciting, captivating, compelling exercises and programs available across the spectrum of strength training and cardiorespiratory activities. The most important factor is be active and engaged in a consistent exercise program. The results will last a lifetime.
- Colak TK, et al: Association between the physical activity level and the quality of life of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Phys Ther Sci 28(1):142-7, 2016
- Carlson JA, et al: Walking mediates associations between neighborhood activity supportiveness and BMI in the Women's Health Initiative San Diego cohort. Health Place 38:48-53, 2016
- Wojan TR, Hamrick KS: Can Walking or Biking to Work Really Make a Difference? Compact Development, Observed Commuter Choice and Body Mass Index. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 8;10(7):e0130903. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130903. eCollection 2015