I read a case study about this advice a cardiologist gave to a patient with high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. The patient took the advice and all his symptoms improved. The cardiologist was making the point that exercise is a powerful prescription we should all take. Here are a few suggestions.
Get a heart like an elite athlete
Regular people who made a commitment to exercise regularly developed cardiac changes seen in elite-level athletes. Nowhere near as much as in elite athletes, but a recent study showed that they built heart muscle with the exercise. This was the results of a study of 12 healthy but sedentary adults who started out brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming several times a week. They built it up to 7-9 hours a week and after a year many of them completed a marathon or similar. That’s not for everyone but using our bodies is not extra, it’s normal.
Exercise every day
The National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on obesity state we should be moderately active for 30 minutes 5 times a week. That’s for general health benefits – to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart attack. But if you want to lose weight, stop weight gain or keep off weight that you’ve lost you need to exercise 45-90 minutes a day, every day.
Pick an exercise goal
Pick one and write it down, better still tell people. You are more likely to do it; this is what studies show about goals. They are going to ask you about it, hold you to account. Also you have a specific reason to be active, it becomes training. And when you reach that goal, reward yourself (just not with food and drink!)
Get a buddy and log it
In the same way that telling people about your exercise goal makes you more likely to achieve it, using a buddy or personal trainer can make you feel accountable. You don’t want to let down who you’ve arranged to meet, so it can improve motivation. Also studies show that recording activity or exercise in a log or diary can motivate and increase the amount of exercise completed.
Stand up more
Even those who exercise need to think about how they spend the other waking hours. People who are on their feet all day can have a lower risk of disease than those who make a few gym sessions each week but sit down the rest of the day. The contraction of muscles required to stand up improves the sugars and the fats in the blood and our health. So, stand up after every 20 minutes of sitting and stretch for 2 minutes. Get up and make a cup of tea during the adverts, it’s good for you. And when you pick up your mobile phone, stand up to make that call.
You need to get up and move.