Starting your physical activity journey

 Thu, 17th Sep, 2020

Getting started on your physical activity journey with Dr Diane Cooper and Will Faulker on Midlands 103

Thanks very much to Will Faulker and Midlands 103 for having me on air this morning to speak about physical activity and health, my favourite topic! If you missed the show we will include the link here tomorrow once it becomes available. Following our discussion, I promised we would provide you with some simple and practical tips and resources to help you get started on your physical activity journey, so these can be found below. Some physical activity is better for your health than none!

1.What are the benefits of doing aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance exercise?

Your body adapts very specifically to difference types of physical activity. You need to regularly perform a combination of aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance exercise to obtain maximum benefit from training. This is true for people of all ages and all levels of fitness. This will help to ensure you live not just a long life span, but a long health span with good quality of life, disease free years, independence, vitality and well-being. Participation in the four types of physical activity mentioned here (aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance) have many important benefits to your health and some of the key benefits that are specific to each type of training are listed below. The weekly recommendations for aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance exercise is also listed below in addition to some simple and practical home based video routines to help get you started on your physical activity journey.

Aerobic exercise (e.g. cycling, walking, swimming, running, dancing) is very important for your health. This type of training improves your body composition, body fat levels, the functioning of your cardiovascular system, your insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and aerobic fitness (VO2max). Aerobic fitness is an independent predictor of health and protects against a range of chronic clinical conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Resistance training (e.g. body weight squats, lunges etc., machine weights, TRX, kettle bells etc.) is also very important for your health. This type of training preserves and/or increases the total amount of muscle mass that you have and enhances how it functions in addition to its strength and power. Resistance training also increases bone density (thickness), which is very important to prevent and manage osteoporosis and osteopenia. These adaptations are crucial to maintaining muscle function, strength and power, promoting good bone health, preventing frailty and falls and promoting functional independent living in older age.

Flexibility training (e.g. stretching, yoga) improves mobility and range of motion in all joints and is linked to independent living in later years.

Balance training improves stability and when combined with strength training reduces the likelihood of falls in older adults.

2.How much aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance exercise should I do every week?

Aerobic Exercise Recommendations

Frequency:    5-7 days per week.

Intensity:     Moderate intensity. You are exercising at moderate intensity if you can hold a conversation as you walk, cycle etc.

Time:             Minimum of 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes per week.

Type:              Walking, cycling, jogging, dancing, swimming, home based    aerobic circuits. We have also provided a home based video for you to follow below.

Resistance Exercise Recommendations

Frequency:    2 times per week for beginner.

Intensity:       Moderate intensity. The intensity should be moderate, so if      you are lifting a weight you should be able to do it 12-15 times. If you can only lift it 4-6 times it is too heavy, it would be considered more advanced strength training and not  appropriate for beginners.

Time:              You should be able to complete a full body routine in 30-40                                minutes. Please focus on good technique.

Type:              Body weight exercises e.g. squats, lunges, wall press ups are  perfect for beginners. Other types of resistance training include hand weights, kettle bells, water based resistance e.g. aqua aerobics, TRX, machine weights. We have also provided a home based video for you to follow below.

Flexibility Exercise Recommendations

Frequency:    At least 2 times per week.

Intensity:       Stretch each muscle to the point of tension, not pain. There       should be no pain in any muscle or joint when you are doing flexibility training.

Time:              A simple 15 minute routine 2 or 3 times per week makes a      massive difference! You will notice reduced pain and stiffness in general.

Type:              Yoga, simple home based stretching. We have also provided a  home based video for you to follow below.

Balance Exercise Recommendations

Frequency:    2 times per week, but if you have serious balance issues such   as recurrent falls, then 4-5 times per week.

Intensity:       These exercise are not physically exerting, but do require        correct technique as explained in our video below.

Time:              5 minutes per session.

Type:              Please see our video below.

3.Please see our resources to follow to help you start your physical activity journey.

We have created separate videos to show you strength exercises, flexibility exercises and balance exercises. We also included a link below to show you how you can combine all four modes of training in a one hour home based training session.

Mixed mode (aerobic and resistance training) workout: A mixed mode home-based circuit is included here:

This video will take you through one of the functional circuits we do with our True Transformation groups. In this video, John takes you through a full 15 minute warm up, main phase which includes a mixture of aerobic and resistance exercises, and a 10 minute cool down. It is very important to perform the warm up because this prepares your body safely for exercise. It is also very important to perform the cool down as this allows your body to transition safely from exercise to rest. This video is appropriate for people who are beginners, intermediate and advanced because for each exercise John gives you a number of options to chose from ranging from easy to hard. You don’t need much floor space or any equipment.

Balance workout: A home based balance workout can be found here. This workout was created for people who are beginners to balance training. You don’t need much floor space or any equipment. 

Flexibility workout: A home based flexibility workout can be found here. John is demonstrating the exercises with the use of a stretching band as it is aimed at people who are currently not doing any flexibility work, or people who are stretching but are not very flexible at the moment. If you don’t have a stretching bank you can use the belt off a dressing gown, or a towel, to help you.

Also, if you are someone who sits all day as part of your job, then you may experience back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain etc. If you incorporate a few minutes of stretching (flexibility) into your day, it will make a big difference to you. Take 5 minutes once or twice in your working day to perform the stretches below. These can be done in your chair so you don’t even have to leave the room.

Stretching Routine