With work deadlines, social events and life admin, our day-to-day time can quickly run short – and exercise is often the first sacrifice. However, ditching the workout today could have implications on our health tomorrow. Bupa health advisor THOMAS HOOD runs through four areas of concern and some exercise tips to target them.
#1 Improving Posture
If you spend hours at a desk and suffer from neck or back stiffness and pain, this may be due to poor posture and require paying more attention to core strength. Luckily, the beauty of core exercises is that they quite often require little to no equipment. You can do them in any spot with sufficient floor space.
Circuit training, Pilates and yoga all include core-strengthening routines. Check out classes available at your local gym for guidance in getting started. Once you’re confident, you can easily practice alone.
Working on your core can reduce lower back pain and stiffness and prevent more serious spinal-alignment issues. Good posture can also improve your digestion and breathing efficiency.
#2 Reducing Blood Pressure
Often symptom-less, high blood pressure is most commonly linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices; these include stress, alcohol, smoking and excessive salt or saturated fat. Aerobic exercises can help alleviate the pressure and improve vascular control with circulation.
Running, swimming or cardio classes are ideal. If time is a factor, even a 45-minute spin session or a 20-minute walk over your lunch break can help.
Studies have shown that reduction of just 10mm/hg pressure has been linked with 13 percent and 27 percent reductions in all-cause mortality and stroke risk, respectively. Aerobic exercise helps not only high blood pressure and weight loss, but is a great form of stress management too.
#3 Losing Excess Weight
As well as having multiple severe health implications, carrying excess weight can be a big knock to self-confidence. Here’s the good news; rather than traditional prolonged aerobic training, recent research has shown that shorter-duration, higher intensity exercise is just as effective to target weight loss. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating short periods of near-maximal efforts – lasting between 30 seconds and three minutes – with lower-intensity training and recovery periods. Sessions typically last between 20 and 50 minutes.
Spinning, circuit training, boot camps and boxercise classes are all excellent HIIT workouts.
During high intensity sprints, the body mostly burns carbohydrates from muscle stores, but switches to fat-burning during the recovery phase and can continue to elevate metabolism even after the session is over.
#4 Building Muscle
From the age of 30 onwards, our bodies typically lose between three to five percent of our muscle mass each decade, making it increasingly difficult to shift body fat. So it’s important to factor in resistance training to build muscle and boost our self-image. During resistance workouts, small amounts of localised damage is inflicted on muscle tissue. The body repairs the muscle, contributing to a boost in size and strength over time. It’s important to monitor your protein levels and seek guidance to ensure you train effectively and avoid injury.
Classes like body pump, sculpt and circuit training are ideal. You can also request a personalised resistance plan from your trainer.
Matching resistance training with fat-loss exercises enables your body to maintain a healthy weight for the long term – eliminating the dreaded “yo-yo diet”. Increasing your resistance training can also minimise injury risk, boost self-esteem and make everyday tasks just that little bit easier to accomplish.
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This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.