GET FIT! PHYSICAL FITNESS AND YOUR HEALTH
The Interview Magazine
Thriv with Dr. Ramat Lawal-Unuigbe
Often exercise comes to mind when physical fitness is mentioned. Do you know that exercise is a form of physical activity, but physical activity does not necessarily require exercise? What's the difference? Physical activity is more than exercise; exercise is a structured programme of activities geared towards achieving or maintaining physical fitness. Physical activity is any form of movement of the body that uses energy. Some of your daily activities—doing active chores around the house, yard work, walking the dog, climbing the steps - are examples of physical activity.
Physical fitness is the capacity of an individual to do daily routine work without fatigue, to participate in physical activities and still reserve enough energy to meet any emergency. Regular physical activity is good for everyone’s health, and people of all ages and body types, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from being physically active. We should all strive to make physical activity a lifestyle.
Sitting Is Dangerous! A sedentary lifestyle leads to reduced energy expenditure and a lack of physical activity is associated with increased risks of anxiety, stress, and feelings of depression, developing many preventable conditions such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, obesity and dying prematurely. Researchers even suggest that the sedentary lifestyle (so common in our environment) is more deadly than smoking. It is believed that 6-10% of the world’s non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer) are caused by physical inactivity.
BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS:
- Reduces the risk of disease (heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and some types of cancer)
- Enhance productivity and quality at work
- Easy and efficient stress management
- Improves posture and personal appearance
- Maintains muscles which decreases the risk of injury
- Increases your motivation and confidence
- Improves sleep quality.
- Keeps you in shape so you can enjoy leisure activities and feel great.
- Increase mental and social wellbeing.
If you haven't been active before, start at a comfortable level. Once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time, and then try to get active more often. Aim for two hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity each week. It is important that you do something you enjoy; the only way you are going to keep doing this activity is if you enjoy it. Being physically fit is something that you want to do, not have to do. If you want to be active, it has to be convenient, and when choosing an activity, always think about being functionally healthy.
Find below types of activities and benefits they offer:
Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. Some examples include:
- Jogging and running
- Aerobic exercise classes
- Bicycle riding (stationary or on a path)
- Some gardening activities, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
- Golfing (without a cart)
These activities ensure a good range of motion in the joints. Loss of flexibility can be a predisposing factor for physical issues, such as pain syndromes or balance disorders. Flexibility exercises include:
Muscle-strengthening activities build up your strength. These activities work all the different parts of the body - legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. They include:
- Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
- Lifting weights
- Push-ups on the floor or against the wall
- Working with resistance bands (long, wide rubber strips that stretch)
As you embark on your journey of physical fitness, ensure that you take your kids along. Regular physical exercise is important for younger generations too, especially with the rise of obesity in children. Heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and social discrimination are just a few of the possible consequences of a childhood spent in front of the television or the internet. Research studies indicate that children who establish physical fitness early in life are likely to remain active in future. Get your kids moving early, they will be glad you did!
Improving your health does not require a major commitment. Even these small steps can help.
- Walk up the steps rather than riding the elevator.
- Try exercising while watching TV.You can lift weights or ride a stationary bike while you watch your favourite show.
- Park your car further away from the office or supermarket entrance so that you have to walk a little further.
- Walk to the park or restaurant for lunch instead of driving or eating in your office.
- Plant or care for a vegetable or flower garden.
- Join the office walking group.
- Take part in exercise programme at work or nearby gym.
- Get the whole family involved; enjoy an afternoon bike ride, walk in the park with your kids.
- Find a workout buddy as this helps motivate you because they become a key part of your fitness programme.
Some activity is better than none. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you will feel. Make it a goal to improve your health, fitness, and quality of life through daily physical activity.
Until next time, GET MOVING!
Dr. Ramat Lawal-Unuigbe