The Insight on SBS dedicated 2 episodes on ‘How to Exercise’ and ‘The Exercise Pill’ highlighting the role and the importance of exercise for health.
It is estimated that approximately 11 million Australians, almost half the population of Australia, have one of eight chronic health conditions. These chronic health conditions are cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, mental illness, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, back problems, and arthritis. It has been found that lack of physical activity is a primary contributor.
If you go to your GP or specialist presenting with one of these conditions, they may tell you to exercise more, but what does this actually mean?
The guidelines of exercise for general health are as follows:
- 150-300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week
- e 30 minutes of walking at least 5 days per week
- 2 resistance training sessions per week
It is astounding to know 50% of people reach the aerobic activity guidelines and only 15% reach both aerobic and resistance training guidelines.
Aerobic training makes your heart work harder to pump blood and oxygen to muscles. The more you exercise, the more efficient the heart becomes and easier to perform activities of daily living, i.e carrying your groceries from your car to kitchen. As more blood flows to the brain, brain cells start to function at a higher level. Chemical messages are released which helps to improve mood, and there are long term positive effects on memory and concentration, as well as reducing the risk of cognitive diseases like dementia. Aerobic activity can also improve the size and function of blood vessels and encourages new ones to grow, helping to decrease blood pressure in turn helping to prevent heart disease. Aerobic training also expands the lungs to increase oxygen to the body. Over time, this improves the function of the body, i.e you feel less breathless walking up a set of stairs.
Resistance training, on the other hand is beneficial for a number of other reasons. With strength training, tiny tears appear in muscle cells and as they repair, the muscles get bigger and stronger, decreasing the risk of muscle wastage. In addition, as we add more load to the skeletal system, it makes bones denser and more resilient.
Below is a list of common conditions in which strength training can help:
- Sarcopenia is muscle wastage and weakness. This is prevalent as we age. It is never too late to start exercising as exercise will increase muscle mass and will prolong quality of life.
- Type II Diabetes: Muscle contractions, i.e resistance training, illicit an effect helping pull glucose out of the bloodstream to be used for the muscles, in turn improving the efficiency of insulin to take glucose out of the bloodstream. Muscles are the biggest uses of glucose in the body. If muscle mass declines, there is a decreased effect of blood glucose being utilised by the body. Exercise can also reduce inflammation and prevent devastating complications such as limb amputation.
- Osteoarthritis (OA): The stronger the muscles are, the less impact the joint has. Knee OA is most common, so strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves as well as the gluteal muscles help to support the joint, potentially decreasing the need for surgery.
The general activity guidelines for aerobic training is walking, or bike/swimming for those experiencing pain. For resistance training, you can first use body weight but then once you can lift your own body weight, additional weight needs to be added, I.e starting with body weight squats and then holding 2kg dumbbells while squatting.
Exercise Physiologists (EPs) have a minimum four-year degree, giving the added benefits of understanding chronic conditions and prescribing exercises for those conditions. It is paramount to individualise the exercise prescription for each condition, as one program may be beneficial for one person, but detrimental to another. EPs can set achievable exercises i.e basic exercises and then progress to more functional exercises as tolerated.
If you are interested in beginning exercise, book a consultation with Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology so that we can explain, build a program, give specific support, and help you to progress your health and fitness levels.
You may be eligible for an Enhanced Primary Care Plan (EPC) under Medicare where you can receive 5 sessions per year to visit allied health practitioners. Visit your GP to find out more.
You can also receive private health rebates if seeing an Exercise Physiologist.
Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology can also provide home services to let you exercise at the comfort of your own home.
Contact 1300 964 002 for more details.
‘Motivation is what gets you going. Routine is what keeps you going.’
Watch the full episodes of “Insight – How to Exercise” and “Insight – The Exercise Pill” here:
By Angela Vitucci
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
M. Ex Phys, B. Human Movement