In part 1 we talked about what happens to our bodies as we get older and hopefully you weren’t left feeling totally depressed at the prospect, but empowered by how the actions you take can influence your experience of aging.

We know that building regular physical activity into your daily life can assist with the process of ‘healthy ageing’. So the question stands, are you currently doing enough to optimise your health in years to come?

Think back to two weeks ago. Now add up how many minutes in that week you performed either; 

  • “Moderate” level activity (classified by an increased heart and respiratory rate but still managing to maintain a conversation during the activity), e.g brisk walking, cycling or vacuuming.
  • “Vigorous” level activity (unable to say more than a few words in a conversation, without pausing for breath) e.g. walking/tramping uphill, running, competitive sport.
  • Strength based exercise (any exercise that makes your muscles work harder than usual).

In order to meet the minimum recommended levels of activity, adults aged 18-64 should be achieving:

Either:

  • 2 1/2 hours (150 minutes) of “moderate” aerobic activity OR
  • 1 1/4 hours (75 minutes) of “vigorous” aerobic activity per week.

Plus:

  • 2 sessions of strengthening based exercise per week.

If you have added up that week’s activity and realised you have fallen short, you’re not alone. 49% of New Zealand adults are not currently achieving the recommended amount of physical activity. Yikes!

Now, when it comes to giving you helpful, practical suggestions on how to make positive changes to your exercise habits, it is difficult to do this via a blog post! In reality, we have all gone through a very immediate change in lifestyle, we are all starting from varying fitness levels, we all enjoy different forms of exercise and we all have very different goals. However, the key messages are the same and apply to everyone so here’s a few tips to get you going.

Start slowly and build up gradually over time

When we suddenly feel inspired to make a change and we suddenly have more time or our hands, it can be easy to start too enthusiastically! The risk when we do too much too soon (especially if this is new load for the body) is that we can become injured. Getting an injury is a sure-fire way of falling straight back into the old sedentary lifestyle we are trying to break free from. Exercise is a healthy form of physiological stress for our bodies but we need time for our tissues to adapt to better tolerate this load. We discuss this concept more in a previous post on load management.

Enjoyment and ease is essential

We cannot expect achievable changes to our weekly exercise plan if we don’t enjoy it. Think of this as an opportunity to try something new or get back into an activity you used to love. Normally, we would advise you to think about what works best for you; do you prefer exercising with others? Are you more motivated in the morning and love getting it done before work to set you up for the day?  When will you have uninterrupted time free from kids and work commitments? It usually pays to think about these things first to ensure the changes you intend to make are long lasting and sustainable. However, you may have to be a little bit more creative if you prefer exercising with others. Is there a live online class you could participate in or could you do at home exercises with your children?

Form routines and habits

Being too busy has got to be one of the biggest barriers for people not getting as much exercise into their week as they would like. For most people, now is the perfect opportunity to build new routines and habits with the barrier of busyness being greatly reduced. But even once we have returned to work, you can try incorporating exercise into things you are already doing, for example your commute to and from work. If you drive, park your car 15 minutes from work and walk the final section. Or jump off the train or bus at an earlier stop and walk the final leg. When you do this 5 days a week, walking 15min each way.. boom ..straight away there is your 150 min of ‘moderate’ aerobic exercise in a week.  At Sports Lab we are also fans of the ‘walking meeting’, instead of sitting in a room, try introducing the idea to your colleagues and take your meetings outside. If you prefer a more structured form of exercise, classes can be a great way of getting started as you commit to a set time each week and all you need to do is follow the instructors lead. 

After considering the normal ageing process and remembering the powerful impact keeping physically active has on this inevitable process, hopefully this has inspired change in either your own lifestyle or of those around you. Here, at Sports Lab we are here to help and offer the following service lines to help you achieve your exercise goals:

Sports Lab Run Club

A fun and social run, inclusive of all abilities…weekend warriors, hobby joggers, first timers and serious roadsters, all are welcome! This usually runs as a free event every Monday evening at 6pm from Sports Lab but during lock-down we are offering these as “physically distant runs”. We can all get out and run our neighbourhood- jump on Strava to be a part of our Sports Lab crew and get some motivation and encouragement from our other Run Club members. There’s a Sports Lab Community Facebook group where we can discuss all things running and recovery too.

Pilates classes

Our Pilates classes are small, physiotherapist led exercise classes focusing on developing strength, mobility and balance. They are open to any ages, gender, and abilities. This usually runs on Monday nights 7-8pm at Sports Lab but during the period of lock-down we are offering these as online classes. Becky will be running 2 classes per week:

  • Monday morning 8.00- 8:30am
  • Thursday evening 7.30- 8.30pm

These are free to the Sports Lab community via Instagram live, but will also be recorded for anyone that misses these so they can participate in their own time.

Becky Norrish is a Sports Lab Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor. She’s passionate about empowering people to keep moving and doing what they love.