Weekly Wellness: March into physical activity

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We hear it all the time: "You need to exercise." But why? And for how long? And doing what? Well, let's break it down by question.

Why do we need to exercise?

  • Control weight: When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
  • Combat health conditions and diseases: Being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides which keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Not only that, but regular exercise can help you prevent and/or manage type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and arthritis (among others).
  • Improve mood: Exercise stimulates chemicals in your brain that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
  • Boost energy: Exercise causes your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients within your body and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy.
  • Promote better sleep: Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.

How long should we exercise?
Children and adolescents need:

  • 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day

Adults need:

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e. brisk walking) for 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) AND weight training (muscle-strengthening activities) a minimum of twice weekly, OR
  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e. jogging or running) for 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) AND weight training (muscle-strengthening activities) a minimum of twice weekly

What should we do?
For the aerobic activity, we have the basic list of:

  • Walking
  • Running or jogging
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

For the muscle strengthening activities, we will use the mnemonic: LAB CASH (which is legs, abdominals, back, chest, arms, shoulders and hips):

  • Legs: squats or chair squats, seated leg raises, standing hamstring curls, curtsy, knee raises
  • Abdominals: crunches, donkey kickbacks, seated twists, plank
  • Back: knee drops, cat-cow, bird dogs, no equipment needed rows
  • Chest: push-ups or kneeling push-ups, isometric press
  • Arms: arm circles, chair or bench dips, push-ups
  • Shoulders: push-ups, plank, supermans, inchworms
  • Hips: bridge, supermans, bird dogs, mountain climbers, sumo squats

And now we know. We are prepared to march into wellness! Good luck!