Getting enough exercise is vital for our health. Many people today lead sedentary lives, working in an office, using a car to get around and watching television for relaxation. The advent of technology and time-saving devices has made life even less active with machines to take all the hard work out of everyday tasks. It can be hard to inject activity into our daily lives, but this article will examine three excellent exercises that are easy to perform and that can vastly improve our health.
Once we get used to exercising more each day, little by little, our fitness level and general health improves. Incorporating movement into our daily lives eventually becomes a habit and our risk of heart disease, stroke, mental health problems, high cholesterol and high blood pressure decreases, leaving us in better shape mentally and physically.
The benefits of walking
Walking is the most basic of all exercises and one which is hugely beneficial to health. The body is made for walking and the very action of placing one foot in front of the other is how early man got from point A to point B every day. This very act of walking has become less important in people’s lives as we use cars, buses, taxis and other modes of transport to move anywhere but the shortest distances.
Walking is good for the heart, the lungs, the bones and the muscles, with each step using all the main muscles in the legs. In order to benefit from walking we should walk at a brisk pace for at least 30 minutes every day. This pace gets the heart rate up and makes us feel more energised. Walking is also an excellent way to improve your mood and general mental health, while walking outside also exposes us to the sun, giving us much-needed vitamin D.
Cycling to work
Not many of us live within walking distance to our offices or want to devote hours every day to walking where we need to get to. Although walking is a superb way to exercise, another option which will take us to our destination at a faster pace is cycling. Cycling exercises the whole of the lower body, strengthening the knees, glutes, quads and hamstrings, while improving cardiovascular fitness at the same time. Regular cycling has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by 50%.
Cycling is becoming more and more popular with cycle tracks now a common sight in city centres and many rent-a-bike schemes running across the UK. You should aim to cycle for at least 30 minutes each day for maximum benefits. There are many cycling clubs in existence which offer newcomers a good way to get involved in the sport, meet new people and find encouragement and support in their new hobby.
Use the stairs instead of the lift
Although it can be difficult to find time to exercise specifically for health and fitness purposes, there are a number of everyday activities that can easily be performed without losing any time. One of the simplest and most effective ways to incorporate more movement and exercise into our daily lives is by using the stairs instead of taking the lift. Wherever possible, always try to walk up the stairs instead of standing still in a lift to get to where you need to go, whether you are at work or out shopping.
By using the stairs instead of the lift we can benefit from an intense workout over a short period of time, which when added to other activities such as brisk walking can have a huge positive effect on our overall health. Of course, many of us have stairs at home so this is also a form of exercise that can be practised alone in the house, in addition to when out and about. Climbing stairs is like walking up a hill, using all the muscles in your legs while giving you an intense cardio workout at the same time. Walking up the stairs strengthens muscles and bones, burns calories, improves circulation and ultimately lowers blood pressure.
It is important to walk up and down stairs slowly and in a controlled motion so as not to risk injury. Be careful of your foot placement on every step and pay attention to the feel of the muscles as you push up into the next step. This is really one of the most beneficial exercises that you can do at home or whenever you need to go up to the next floor in any building.