Why daily physical activity is not optional
Technology is wonderful, but it has made us physically lazy.
We no longer have to hunt or gather our food and water –
we can get it home delivered!
We often choose to spend our spare time on devices instead of doing something physical. Unfortunately, our increasingly sedentary lifestyle betrays one of the most fundamental aspects of being human – we are organic with lots of moving parts!
Our children have no concept of a time, not so long ago, when there were no portable devices. They need our help to understand the importance of devoting adequate time to physical activity every day.
The Ecstasy of Exercise
Exercise delivers many rewards and health benefits:
- You get a ‘rush’ of wellbeing from increased oxygen in the blood and the release of feel-good hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are also a natural analgesic (pain-killer), which reduces discomfort when you challenge your body.
- Your muscles will waste (shrink and lose tone) if they are not flexed regularly. In the gym, the rule of thumb is low repetitions with heavy weights increases strength, whereas high repetitions with light weights increases endurance.
- Exercise builds stronger, denser bones and prevents the onset of conditions like osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises are best e.g. weight training (see above), walking, jogging, climbing stairs and yoga. If bone weakness is a problem, opt for non-weight bearing activities such as swimming and cycling.
- Exercise helps your mind relax, which reduces adrenalin (stress response) and promotes good quality sleep.
- Daily exercise mimics the positive action of insulin (increases insulin sensitivity), which keeps the metabolism humming!
Everyone’s energy ‘burn’ rate is different, and we each require different amounts of energy to fuel our activities. Most active individuals are using energy in three ways.
- Scheduled physical activity: Doing intense activity for at least 30 minutes per day (e.g. a brisk walk) will work your heart and muscles, and maintain your fitness level.
- Incidental activity: Includes household chores, taking the stairs, eating, talking, typing, driving and thinking.
- Basal metabolism: The energy used to maintain essential body processes. It burns up around 70% of food intake (if you consume the recommended amount).
Make Friends with your PAL
The overall energy you expend each day is called your Personal Activity Level (PAL). PAL and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) can be used to calculate the amount of food energy you need to maintain your current pace of life.
If your school or work activities are very sedentary, schedule a daily physical activity to increase your PAL. Take on the household chores with gusto and turn them into a workout!
Keep your whole body humming by scheduling at least 30 minutes of intense physical activity every day.
Download the ‘Burn It Off Chart’ to see how long it takes for your body to use up the energy that comes in with some common foods.