Exercise prescription

Activity is extremely important for overall good health and needs to be added to a healthy diet.

There are a multitude of studies showing how important activity is ranging from simply getting up more often through to deliberate exercise. There are a number of reasons for exercising. One is to get fit, win races or take part in organised sports. In this case you need to train to achieve your goals. However for long term good health the effect of exercise plateaus off at about an hour a day. If you do more than this you’ll be fitter, but not healthier. Enjoy yourself.

This is a guideline to the minimum effort you need to make each day and the types of activity that are most beneficial.

  1. General activity.
    • Aim for an average of 10,000 steps per day. (This will usually involve going for a short walk on top of your daily activity). This is an hour of exercise plus a bit extra activity.
    • Walk around for 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting (at work, watching TV, reading etc). This doesn’t have to be high intensity, but if you have a flight of stairs to hand – go up and down them.
    • If you are able to have a standing desk, use it for 4-8 hours per day. (Have the desk at the height of your belly button).
  2. Exercise can be broken down into 4 main types. You need a bit of each every week.
    • Cardiovascular.
      1. 30-60 minutes each day. Any activity will do. Walking, running, cycling, dancing, swimming etc. You don’t need to do more than 60 mins per day. Aim for 5-7 hours per week spread over at least 5 days.
      2. Exercise at the intensity of brisk walking to slow jogging. It doesn’t have to be harder. Walking up hills and stairs is excellent.
      3. Interval training (30 seconds to a minute of flat out exercise, followed by a couple of minutes of easier, repeated as many times as possible) will improve fitness and is recommended a couple of times per week if you are able.
      4. Weight bearing exercise (walking, jogging, dancing – not swimming or cycling) must be done 4-7 days per week to improve bone condition.
    • Strength.
      1. This is important for bone strength and muscle tone and for reducing the metabolic syndrome and diabetes risk. It also helps prevent injury.
      2. 2-3 times per week for 10-30 mins.
      3. Anything from 500g to own body weight is good. You do not have to ‘pump iron’
    • Flexibility.
      1. This involves stretching and is good for looking after your joints and preventing injury.
      2. 3-7 times per week.
      3. Hold any stretch for a maximum of 30 seconds. You don’t need more than this.
      4. Do not stretch so you are uncomfortable.
    • Balance.
      1. This improves core muscle function and helps prevent falls and other injuries.
      2. Tai Chi, yoga and pilates are all good forms, but so is walking along the kerbside (where safe to do so) and standing on one leg while cleaning your teeth. Standing on a “balance board” is also good.
      3. 3-7 times per week, for 10-30 mins, or whenever you remember to do so.
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