By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.
What do medical professionals mean when they say exercise? Did you know ANY physical activity is better than none? Cleaning house, push mowing a yard, bringing Christmas boxes back down the stairs to the basement is all helpful activity.
I’ve tried using the term activity rather than exercise when speaking to my patients.
I don’t want patients to feel that they have to be able to afford a gym membership and an athletic trainer or specialist to be able to experience the health benefits of activity. Many people feel exercise must be structured, and requires fancy equipment. The term activity seems less structured and more leisurely or even fun!
There are different types of activity including muscle strengthening, aerobic or weight bearing, stretching or flexibility, and balance.
Let’s look through some of these and look at the benefits.
Stretching or flexibility is essential to anyone doing physical activity to keep the muscles from being damaged. Just like a balloon is easier to blow up if it’s been stretched first, your muscles need warming up or stretching prior to rigorous activity. Stretching keeps muscles limber and strong and you will have less injuries if you are consistently stretching before physical activity.
Stretching can be done by sitting in a chair or even laying down in bed before you get up. And stretching after Aerobic exercise is important as well to help keep the muscles stretched out when the muscles are warm.
Muscle strengthening exercises like lifting weights is helpful in building muscle and strengthening the muscle that you already have. Remember to start with lower weights and more repetitions and slowly work up to higher weights over a long period of time (like several months).
We generally refer to activities that aren’t vigorous enough to be considered aerobic. These include things like walking the dog with intermittent starts and stops, leisure hikes or all day shopping expeditions (one of my favorites :). These are muscle strengthening activities.
Remember, this can be done from a wheelchair and can be done with other physical limitations, you just need to be creative in how to do it.
Aerobic activity, the kind that causes someone to get their heart rate up enough they are too winded to speak a full sentence, is good to help protect the heart and prevent cholesterol build up in the vessels of your body. This type of activity uses large muscle groups. Aerobic activity can lower blood sugars, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and has been shown to release chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, almost like an anti-depressant in natural form.
Examples of this can be running, walking as fast as you can (without an animal on a leash), biking/peddling, swimming, and water aerobics.
Balance exercise is a good activity for our bodies, especially as we get older. Tai chi and yoga are great at helping us maintain balance and stretch our muscles at the same time. I encourage people to take part in these types of activity. Balance is important to prevent falls by maintaining stability and flexibility.
I hope this helps provide a new perspective on how different types of activity can keep your body healthy. Doing a little of each activity every week can keep your body balanced and fit for life. You’ve heard the phrase – “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” This is certainly applicable to muscles and physical fitness. You can lose strength/flexibility/balance and cardiovascular benefits if you stop being physically active.
Speak to your medical provider as to what type of activity or exercise is good for you. If you EVER experience chest pain or chest pressure, immediately seek medical attention.
This is what medical professionals mean when they remind you to exercise!!! Stay active during the holidays and in 2020!!!
Up to date was used for information for this article.