Ljupka Peev Naturopath and Herbalist
Exercise

EXERCISE – HOW, WHAT, WHEN

We all know the importance of exercise on our physical health, but regular exercise imparts other important benefits to our wellbeing. It helps us manage stress, improves the quality of sleep, improves energy, all of which help to keep us in good spirits.

What type of exercise is best?

Types of exercise

A note on weight training

How much exercise to I need?

Tips for incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle

 

What type of exercise is best?

Anything is better than nothing. If you don’t have a good exercise history, it can be difficult to decide what to start with and how to incorporate regular exercise into your life. Also, you may have a health condition or physical injuries (past or present) that may affect your ability to perform certain activities. It is always best to get individualised advice to ensure that the activities you choose to do are both safe for your body and appropriate to your needs. Ljupka can help get you started or point you in the right direction if you require further assessment. She can provide tips and ideas, as well as motivational support, to get you active and feeling great.

 

Types of exercise

Physical exercises are often described based on the effect they have on the body. Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate and includes activities such as cycling, walking, jogging/running, swimming, hiking, rowing, team sports or sports such as tennis. Weight bearing exercise is any exercise where the person ‘bears’ their own weight (such as walking or running), and resistance exercise involves training with weights and increases muscle mass and strength. A combination of these is ideal to achieve maximum benefits.

 

A note about weight trainingDumbell

Many women are concerned that if they do weight training they will develop big, bulky muscles. In fact, this is very difficult for women to achieve since we lack the testosterone required to gain this sort of muscle growth. Weight training will improve strength and muscle tone and this in turn improves metabolic rate, meaning you will burn more calories at rest. Insulin resistance also improves with resistance exercise and improved muscle tone, which adds benefit to diabetics, women with PCOS and menopausal women. This does not necessarily mean going to the gym and these types of exercises can be done at home with some basic equipment, like dumbbells. If you have never done any weight/resistance training before, it is recommended that you seek advice and supervision, at least initially, to ensure that the exercises are performed correctly, in order to prevent injury and to optimise your training.

 

How much exercise do I need to do?

Australian government guidelines on exercise for the general population, in order to maintain health and weight, recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week, with 90 minutes of this being of moderate or high intensity. Moderate intensity is achieved when your heart rate reaches 125-150 beats/minute. Types of exercise that will achieve this may include brisk walking or medium-paced swimming or cycling. High intensity is reached at a heart rate of >150 beats per minute, through exercise such as aerobics, circuit training, speed walking, jogging, running, hard or hill cycling.

Remember, these guidelines are for the general population and will help you to maintain your weight and prevent chronic illness. If your aim is weight loss, you will require a different level of exercise.

 

Tips to incorporate physical activity into your life:

Regular physical activity is important throughout life and although most of us are aware that it is vital for good health, we must also remember that exercise makes us feel good. It gives us more energy and improves mood, and often this happens immediately. Why then do people often see it as a chore or a punishment, rather than a reward? There are many ways to exercise and be physically active. It needn’t be structured but it should be sustainable and enjoyable. Think active lifestyle.

1. Choose something you like to do. This might mean trying something new.

2. Think outside the square – try indoor rock-climbing, it’s safe, you don’t need any experience and you can bring a friend/partner regardless of their level of fitness; rent a kayak from your nearest boathouse/club and spend an afternoon rowing on the river; get out of the city and go for a hike or a bike ride in an area you haven’t yet explored; try a dance class.

WomenGroup3. Make it social – invite a friend or partner or your kids. Suggest an activity like one of those above or perhaps going for a walk through some gardens, at the beach or the local walking track. It’s a much better way of connecting with someone and spending time together than sitting in front of a screen.

4. Find an exercise partner, join a group or get a trainer – you’re more likely to do the exercise class or go for that walk if you’ve agreed to meet someone else to do it or have made an appointment.

5. Think about ways in which you are sedentary and identify where you could move more. Perhaps you spend minutes waiting for the elevator when you could take the stairs. Perhaps you spend time looking for the nearest car park space (or money looking for the nearest car park) when you could park a little further and walk. Being sedentary is what puts us at great risk for chronic health problems, so getting some extra steps in each day helps keep us moving and healthy.

6. Prioritise you, your health and feeling good. It is very easy to get busy and feel you don’t have the time to incorporate exercise and activity into your life. However, in order to perform your tasks and look after others, you need your health and you need to be feeling well. Put your exercise regime in your diary FIRST, then add other activities around your exercise.

7. With structured exercise or an exercise program, give yourself a goal each session and with each exercise. This might be that your goal is to maintain your session to the same degree as your last or this may be to push it a little further this time. Perhaps this could be running one more minute, or running a little faster. Find out about interval training. It helps with faster weight loss and greater fitness and can be (and often already is) incorporated into most aerobic routines. Using a heavier weight, or doing more repetitions is another method for improving outcomes. Seeing your fitness improve will help to keep you motivated. Be sure to check with your trainer as to how you should do this.

8. Ensure variety. Whether it’s structured exercise or other activities, performing a variety of these will prevent you from getting bored and also ensure that you use different muscle groups and get a range of aerobic and non-aerobic exercises.

9. See your naturopath. Your practitioner can give you references and tools to address your exercise needs and keep you motivated, as well as individualised guidelines, taking into consideration your past and current health, as well as assessing your future risks. Your naturopath can also help you ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements so that you maintain good energy and meet your goals.

10. Don’t forget to eat well and eat regularly, to ensure that you keep your energy up and stable throughout the day.

11. Maintain an adequate fluid intake. If you are exercising, you will need to increase your fluids to compensate for fluid loss through exertion and sweating. Speak to your naturopath about your individual needs.

 

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