Physiochat: Working hard does not make up for exercise (Part 2)

Physiochat: Working hard does not make up for exercise (Part 2)
Source: Geetha Opata | Accra Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic | email: physiochat@yahoo.com
Date: 15-11-2019 Time: 06:11:25:am

People might assume that their jobs or daily hustle is good enough exercise. However, as stated in Part 1 of this article, this is not the case. Even fitness trainers and physiotherapists need to undergo routine exercising separate from their physically demanding professions.

Aerobic exercises are the first go-to when it comes to maintenance and enhancing general wellbeing.

They get your heart beat faster and make you breathe harder than you usually do. Aerobic forms of exercising are essential for the health of the heart, the blood vessels and the body as a whole.

When we are deciding which exercises to do, we should note that the goal should be, to cause the heart to beat faster and to make you breath harder than you usually do. It should cause some warming up of the body also. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities cause an increase in heartbeat and make you breathe harder.

They don’t always cause sweating though they will make you feel warm. Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises are brisk walking, water aerobics, bicycling light effort, social dancing and ballroom dancing.

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities are more intense and would generally cause sweating. During such activities, it’s difficult to talk without running out of breath.

Examples of such vigorous-intensity activities are swimming laps, skipping rope, aerobic dancing, jogging, hiking, bicycling fast, basketball, taekwondo, soccer. For general fitness and health of the heart, it is recommended that we should have at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises 5 days a week (American Heart Association).

Another very important aspect to include in fitness is strengthening. The muscles have to be strengthened at least two times a week to ensure that they carry you about effectively in your activities. Strengthening exercises work your muscles by using resistance or weight, or your own body weight.

This type of exercise increases lean muscle mass and this burns a good number of calories. When people lose weight, they may also lose muscle. It is important to do strengthening exercises to keep muscle mass.

Regular exercising is good for all ages, and it helps you have a healthier old age. During older age, though, it is still necessary to continue regular exercising.

This is because ageing is a natural process that tends to speed loss of muscle mass. As a result, strengthening exercises are important to enable the elderly to stay strong and carry out daily activities with ease.

Strengthening exercises reduce the risk of osteoporosis and increase bone density. It also increases metabolism and increases weight loss.

Regular physical exercise, both aerobic and strengthening, reduce the risk of other disease conditions.

It is advisable to build intensity gradually. You can increase the amount of time, or repetition of exercise. If you haven’t been very active for a while, it is advisable, to begin with, small goals, with shorter time and work upwards increasing it gradually.

Examples of strength exercises include squats, push-ups, pull-ups, dumb bell exercises and crunches.


The key to fitness is to move about instead of sitting. It is very important to reduce sitting time at all costs. Even if it is replaced by light-intensity activities. Any amount of movement is better than none at all.

Science has linked sitting too much to increased risk for various diseases such as diabetes, cancers, early stroke, joint pain and stiffness, back pain, and early death. Walking is one easy exercise to do, which is free to do, anytime, anywhere.

Regular exercising also reduces pregnancy complications and it reduces blood pressure. It also helps reduce difficulty with sleeping. It improves balance, reduces depression and anxiety.

An important practice before exercising is the warm-up period. Warm-up periods for exercising means to prepare for the work-out by exercising gently for about 10 minutes before increasing intensity gradually. This helps to prepare the heart and the muscles for the actual exercise.

Finally, another aspect of fitness is flexibility, we should include some stretching activities in our exercising routine. It helps to reduce muscle tightness and its negative effects- pain and discomfort.

Here are the Guidelines for physical activity in adults, from the American Heart Association (2019):

  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week.
     
  • Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
     
  • Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
     
  • Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
     
  • Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.