We have already mentioned the importance of regular exercise as a tool to combat poor health and as a part of a balanced healthy lifestyle.
A lot of folks tend to make two common mistakes when it comes to exercise:
1) They don’t exercise at all, in the belief that diet alone will be enough
2) They exercise but there is no variety
Let’s look at these two common mistakes in exercise.
All too often, people put all their focus on food and forget about the exercise. Or, people are out there exercising but it’s ‘all one thing’ and there is no variety.
The problem is, to maintain a healthy strong lean fit body for many decades, you need to eat a nutritious healthy diet and exercise regularly, and you can’t get away with just one or the other. (Oh sure when you are young, if you are active and exercise lots, you’ll get away with poor diet choices for a while. But that won’t still work as you progress through your 40s, 50s and into your 60s.)
Enjoy with the Sport
Moreover, exercise needs to be a regular event – like eating, taking a shower and sleeping – it’s something you need to do every day. Find a sport you enjoy, there are hundreds you can try, and get involved.
However, don’t just do one thing. This is the other thing people do wrong. There are far too many people who are into one sport, like running, but that is all they do, they only run and don’t do anything else. Running is great for cardiovascular fitness, those people will usually have a strong healthy heart, good arteries and healthy lungs, but running doesn’t work the muscle mass on a person’s frame, and also too much running can lead to muscular imbalances and joint-wear injuries, particular on knees and hips.
In addition, stimulating our muscle mass and maintaining as much muscle as possible has many benefits, particularly as we age. Muscles give our body shape…for most of us, the eye-pleasing curves on our bodies are muscle, and the curves we don’t like the look of are fat. (Think: square pecs, or muffin top? Think: “Rugby player thighs” or “bingo wings”? You see what I mean?)
certainly, maintaining muscle mass helps to stabilize our joints, which in turn helps us minimize damage through wear and avoid injuries as we get older.
Additionally, maintaining muscle mass as we age helps keep the metabolic fires burning, and some studies argue that muscle mass helps us to maintain better hormone regulation, and therefore resist certain processes of ageing. If you are over 40, the easy way to think about muscle mass and strength is this: use it, or lose it. Frailty is one of the major markers of ‘end-of-life’ old age. Maintain your bodily strength for as long as you can, it really matters.
Which the best?
Now on the flip side to our runners, cyclists and swimmers, there are people who only lift weights, and don’t ever engage in any cardiovascular conditioning. There are the types who are strong, look muscular, but get puffed out running up a flight of stairs!
In short – you need to do both. You will benefit from some cardiovascular exercise to maintain a healthy heart, good arteries and healthy lungs. And you need to do some strength training to maintain muscle mass, stabilize joints, avoid injuries and help maintain your skeletal muscle as you age through the decades.
And above all else, please remember that frequency and consistency are the keys to success.
Surely, be active every day. Try to get some cardio in at least twice a week, and some strength training at least twice a week. Some days work hard, some days train easy.
Some days, just going for a walk is enough. Hill walking is probably the #1 all-time single best ever exercise you can do for all-round good health.
Some days indoors, some days outdoors – get some fresh air and sunshine!
Variety and consistency are the name of the game. What you do once in a while won’t define your results, but what you do 350 days per year will. It’s better to do 30 to 40 minutes exercise 350 days per year, than some monster two-hour sessions for three enthusiastic weeks, then give it all up and sit on your butt for the next nine months.