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Exercise – APL Health
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Exercise

Exercise header

Exercise is vitally important for our bodies. It keeps us physically and mentally healthy as well as making us feel good about ourselves.

Physical benefits

Primarily exercise will help us to maintain a healthy weight and body mass index. This helps our bodies to run more efficiently giving us the strength and stamina we need to function, and reducing the amount we suffer from exhaustion, shortness of breath or perspiration.

For many of us regular exercise will also make us feel better about the appearance of our bodies. Exercise significantly reduces the risk of disease and illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some cancers. It also helps to develop muscle and strengthen your bones.

Mental benefits

Regular exercise is proven to have significant advantages for your mental health as well as physical health. It helps to reduce tension, anxiety and depression whilst improving self-esteem. It also reduces the signs of aging and will help you to stay mobile and independent, whilst also helping to prevent dementia and memory issues.

Focus and concentration can be improved through regular exercise. Taking a walk during your lunch break will help you to have a productive afternoon for example. Exercise will also help to improve the patterns and quality of our sleep, however exercise immediately before you go to bed can have a detrimental effect to the quality of your sleep. Finally if you’re trying to reduce the amount you smoke or drink you’re more likely to cope better with your cravings if you exercise.

 

Don’t suffer alone

Death is a truly awful time for anyone whether it’s an expected or a sudden death. It’s important to give yourself the time and space to grieve and work through your emotions properly. Your employer should work with you to allow you this time.

There are also many online and community (local and national) resources to help you. Charities like Dying Matters offer advice, community events and forums to help you through every part of your journey. If you feel you’re really not coping or unable to get out of bed and care for yourself such as washing and eating, speak to your GP. They may be able to offer combined grief counselling and medication to help you through the worst days.

Experiencing death can be devastating, allowing yourself to feel and work through your emotions, even those of guilt or anger (which are normal) can help you move on.

 

Start exercising

Where to start

If you’d like to get fit but haven’t done much exercise recently this can seem daunting. But never fear, starting to get moving can be easier than you think. Try incorporating more physical things into your daily routine like taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking to your colleague’s office rather than sending an email.

Pick something you enjoy
Exercise will often be done during your free time so it’s important to do something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t keep it up. Choosing something sociable can be helpful. It means you’ll make more friends and look forward to seeing them, and often you won’t even realise that you’re doing exercise at the same time.

 

Start small

The gym can be great because it offers everything you need to stay fit in one space whilst also offering the discipline and daily routine of ‘going to the gym’. Being around other people who are exercising can also be motivating and give us the pressure we need to keep going.

However the gym isn’t for everyone and there are plenty of other options out there too. New classes are popping up all the time with alternative ways to stay strong and get in shape. Zumba has become quite a phenomenon as it has helped many people, both men and women reach their fitness goals whilst having a lot of fun. For many just joining a local sports club and playing a traditional sport like football, rugby, tennis or hockey is also great because it’s so accessible and there are plenty of opportunities to compete if that’s what you enjoy.

 

Start small

Start with something small and work your way up. You’re less likely to overdo it and injure yourself or sicken yourself from doing too much too fast.

Start by picking one activity to try and spend some time on this once a week. This could include:

    • Swimming. This is great if you’re overweight as it’s a good work out but easy on your joints
    • Cycling. Why not cycle to work? this helps you get in shape and saves money on petrol.
    • Lunchtime walking. Why not organize a lunch time walk once a week with a colleague?

 

How much should I be doing?

These are the guideline recommendations for adults, however this varies with age and any underlying medical conditions. 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is advised for adults. This should raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster. Include some strength activity in your regime on two or more days per week. This can be any activity that strengthens the major muscle groups such as your ‘abs’, ‘quads’, triceps etc. such as doing sit-ups, press-ups, yoga, weight training, heavy gardening and others. These exercises help strengthen your bones and are good for normal healthy movement.

 

Budget and free options

Don’t worry, there is something for every individual and every budget. There are plenty of fitness DVDs out there including Tai Chi, ballet and ‘boxercise’. The initial outlay for a DVD is relatively small, but you may also be able to find similar lessons for free on NHS Choices or video streaming websites.

If you’d prefer to get out the house then going for a walk or a jog is an accessible and free form of exercise for anyone who owns a pair of trainers. If you have an old bicycle lying around then going for a cycle is free too. Many local parks also have free ‘outdoor gyms’, but even if they don’t you can achieve a great workout by just lifting your own body weight doing things like press-ups, sit-ups and squats. There are often free local groups who organise walks, runs or cycles, but if that isn’t for you it can be nice to buddy up with a friend or colleague and do some exercise with them.

 

Want to know more?

There is plenty of interesting information out there but these websites are a great start:

  • nhs.uk
  • bhf.org.uk
  • activenation.org.uk
  • diabetes.org.uk
  • nhs.uk/change4life
  • ramblers.org.uk

There are also loads of apps available for your smartphone too which make the transition to a healthier lifestyle more interactive and engaging. A few we would suggest include:

    • Calorie counter – My fitness pal
    • Couch to 5K
    • Fit Mama

 

Finally…

Four tips to get you started…

Getting fit starts with one small step why not try one of these today?

  1. Use your lunch break to go for a short walk.
  2. Do 10 minutes of research on the internet to find what local groups or facilities are available and accessible to you.
  3. Cycle to work one day per week.
  4. Arrange with a friend, colleague or family member to do one activity a week with them.