Information for Ukrainian refugees / Інформація для українських біженців (click here)
Information for Ukrainian refugees / Інформація для українських біженців (click here)

Exercise for Life

Physical Exercise

 

The health benefits of physical activity are proven and wide ranging. Alongside “don’t smoke”, “limit alcohol intake” and “eat your fruit and vegetables” keeping fit is probably the safest bet in modern medicine with respect to the evidence base. In fact it is often stated  if the effects of exercise could be bottled it would be a “blockbuster drug”. One commonality of the “Blue Zones”, the longest living and healthiest living populations around the world, is that they engage in physical activity as part of their daily routine. Currently in Ireland only 30% of adults and 25% of children meet the minimum requirements for daily physical exercise.

 

Why Exercise?

 

Exercise is akin to a pension…but to get the most out of it you need to start paying in now. Even moderate resistance and cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with maintaining independent living and good physical health in later years. and reducing depression

Exercise is essential for building and maintaining not only muscle but healthy bones and joints. There is an abundance of evidence that exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke), type 2 diabetes, many cancers, dementia and more. Exercise has been shown to prevent and treat mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Exercise also improves and fosters social interactions, community resilience and quality of life.

How much physical exercise do I need?

 

Exercise is a goldilocks intervention; too little leaves us susceptible to a host of chronic diseases as well as low mood, anxiety, cancer and infectious diseases. Conversely too much can run us down or leave us susceptible to injury. The key isn’t an overly complex gym regimen or signing up to an artic marathon, it is finding an exercise(s) that is enjoyable, accessible and practical for you on a regular basis. An expensive smart watch, fitness tracker or app can tell you how much you are doing, but a much simpler rule of thumb is to have an elevated heart rate, being unable to complete full sentences in conversation or to have a sweat on your brow for 30 mins or so. Types of exercise should include not just cardiorespiratory or strength but also stretching and balance.

 

HSE guidelines suggest children and teenagers (2 -18 years old) should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day, and adults (18–64 years old) for at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity activity five days per week (150 minutes per week). Those aged 65 and over should also aim for 30 minutes moderate activity per day with a focus on balance, strength and aerobic fitness.

 

The take home message is that physical activity is suitable for everyone, of all ages and ability, and that any level of activity is better for your health than none.  

 

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