We’re ending this series of New Year blogs with one of the most important things that a lot of people tend to overlook – exercises! Read on to learn more about what an Aerobic Exercise program is and why you should be thinking about it.
As we grow up, our body is programmed to the level of activities we do day in and day out. Something normal for one person could be strenuous for another. No two bodies are alike, so why should the exercises be same?
Aerobic exercises literally mean exercises that use up oxygen at the cellular level. Well that’s literally—let’s move on to what it actually means. An aerobic exercise is simply a type of exercise that uses the large muscles of your body to build your cardiovascular endurance, or your heart’s ability to cope with the demands your body puts on it. A common term used day in and day out is “cardio”.
Exercises that are low intensity but high repetition help build the endurance of the muscles, so activities like walking, stair climbing, and cycling done at a specific intensity and duration will help build the endurance of the heart muscles.
The Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises, when done under the supervision of a trained health professional, are extremely beneficial. Here are just some of the benefits:
- Improved heart health: as you train aerobically, your heart becomes more efficient in pumping blood throughout the body, as it develops its strength. A very evident change is that over a period of time, your heart rate at rest reduces – which is a sign of better functioning heart.
- There is a decrease in blood pressure.
- There is an increase in hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying cells of our body, which leads to better oxygen delivery to the cells resulting in more energy.
- There is an increase in your pulmonary function: your lungs function better.
- Improved muscle endurance: the large muscles of your body become more efficient in performance as they develop their endurance.
- Helps burn fat, leading to weight loss.
- Helps reduce the blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
Finding the Right Intensity
For the aerobic exercise, or any exercise for that matter, to be effective, it’s important that they are done at a certain intensity that evokes these responses from your body.
A very easy method for testing the intensity is the “SING-TALK-HUFF” method. What it basically means is that while doing the exercises, an appropriate intensity is one where you can talk with a little bit of difficulty while exercising. If you are able to sing while exercising, then the intensity is too low for you, and if you are struggling for breath, then it’s too much.
What to Do
Before undertaking any aerobic exercise, it is very important that you consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, diabetes, any arthritic condition, or have had a recent surgery.
A general aerobic program consists of 5-10 minutes of warm-up followed by 15-20 minutes of exercise and a 5-10 minutes of cool down. That should be your complete regime. It is very important that you recognize the importance of warm-up and cool down.
Warm-Up/Cool Down: These include some stretches for major muscles, exercising a lower intensity than your main exercise just to prepare your muscles for what’s coming and later to slowly bring them down to normal after the exercise.
The main exercise can be anything from 15-20 minutes of brisk walking, or 35-40 minutes of regular-pace walking, jogging, cycling, etc.
- No exercises should be causing you pain. A tolerable degree of muscle soreness, usually called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), is normal and sets between 24-48 hours post-exercise. However, any pain that occurs after exercise and lasts for more than 3-4 hours is not normal. It means it was either too much or too soon!
- Always exercise in loose, breathable clothes.
- Keep at least 2 hours space between exercising and meals.
- If you experience any chest pain, chest constriction, calf cramps, or difficulty breathing, immediately stop the exercise.
- Keep yourself well-hydrated during and after exercises.
- Do not do these exercises against the advice of your health care practitioner. It is important to ask your doctor if it is safe for you to do the exercises before you start.
Whether you are someone who wants to become more active or someone who is recovering from an injury, an appointment with a physiotherapist will help you learn more about which exercises are suited for you and why. A Physiotherapist will do a full assessment and prepare a plan for you to help you get going!
Footprint Health and Wellness Centre is a multi-disciplinary clinic located in South Barrie, offering chiropody, physiotherapy, and massage therapy services. Book your appointment now!
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