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Exercise

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Exercise is a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Currently, the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles in Britain is extremely high – 22% of Adults(aged 16 and over) are obese and almost 50% are overweight. In children aged 2-15, 18% are currently obese and around 30% are overweight. One of the main causes of this is the lack of exercise in the lifestyles of many.[1]

Recommended Amounts of Exercise

Currently, international recommendations for the amounts of exercise to maintain a minimum level of fitness are as such:
  • 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is the minimum, but vigorous as opposed to moderate activity should be "explicitly" recommended
  • Combining days of moderate exercise with other days of vigorous exercise is better for you
  • Moderate exercise should be in addition to daily activities such as casual walking, shopping or taking out the rubbish
  • People should do two weight-training sessions a week
  • Adults over 65 or those who are infirm during their 50s and early 60s should also do balancing exercises if they are at risk of falling and draw up appropriate exercise plans with their doctors. [2]

Exercise and Weight Loss

While exercise can be fantastic in the long term for maintaining both a healthy weight and lifestyle, unfortunately it is relatively ineffective as a weight-loss tool in the short term, particularly for dieters. Exercise will aid you diet and does burn calories, however, the ******* may underwhelm you. For example, as a general rule, 10 minutes of jogging at a moderate intensity will burn 100 calories, and for other exercises it will be more or less per time period depending on the intensity. However, the higher intensity the exercise, the less of it you will likely be able to do – this should be a consideration when exercising for weight-loss. Despite this, it is an extremely helpful habit to get in to, so don’t be deterred. Tables can be of use calculating how many calories will be burnt based on the exercise you are doing.

Getting Enough Exercise

There are many ways to achieve the necessary amounts of exercise, and they don’t have to cost you. While purchasing a gym membership will usually allow you unlimited use of the facilities, almost all gyms will require you to enter a minimum contract period, 12 months being a guideline, and if you fall out of the exercise habit this could prove more costly than you expect. Additionally, while students can often get great deals on gym membership through their universities, gym memberships can be extremely expensive, especially in central city areas. There are many relatively cost-free ways to exercise, for example – running, rope skipping, swimming, football, basketball, tennis and boxing. All of these require minimal or no equipment or low session-fees. For example, buying a decent skipping rope may cost £5 but it provides a high intensity workout and the equipment will likely last a long time. On the subject of gyms, another option is available – the home gym variety. While, like sports equipment, these will prove a long-term investment, but there are disadvantages. Home gyms require space, are initially costly and will likely be of lesser quality and specification than similar equipment at gyms which rely on membership fees.

Warming Up

Warming up is a very important thing to do before exercise – it helps prevent injury and increases performance during exercise itself by releasing adrenaline, increasing the heart rate, enabling oxygen in blood to travel with greater speed and increasing temperature in the muscles. Warm ups should be of lower intensity than the exercise itself and should be light and easy to complete. Slow jogging, star jumps, crab runs, crossovers and stretches are all suitable. Specific warmups are best. 3-5 sets starting with the empty bar and working up in even increments to your working weight.

Hydration

Hydration is another key issue when exercising. Always make sure to stay well hydrated – it is generally accepted to drink until no longer thirsty, then a couple of extra mouthfuls. Take water with you or make sure water is available on long exercise sessions. Do not overhydrate, it will mean you frequently have to stop for toilet breaks and excessive overhydration can be lethal. The hotter the weather, the more water you will need to drink - try to avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day.

Energy And Eating

Another issue to consider is eating before exercise – never exercise soon after eating. After a meal, blood flow is directed towards the stomach to facilitate the digestive process. Exercising during this will mean that blood will have to be diverted toward the muscles, and this can cause cramping in the abdominal areas. [3]

Key Points

If you are new to exercise, remember this – you do not have to push yourself to your limit, and any exercise is better than no exercise. Gradually increasing your fitness and only going to levels you feel comfortable will make exercise more enjoyable and prevent burn-out and injury.

Key Points

  • Exercise regularly
  • High intensity workouts are fine but never push yourself to a point you feel unsafe
  • Never exercise just after eating
  • Always stretch/warm up
  • Try to exercise in a variety of different ways
  • Exercise can be fun, try to avoid punishing exercises
  • Always stay well hydrated
  • Start out slowly
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