By Chinwe Obinwanne (Naijafitmoms)
We recently discussed Wellness and You and dissected the various dimensions of wellness that everyone needs to focus on. Today, we’ll be looking at one dimension of wellness that is key to maintaining a healthy quality of life.
We’re talking about physical activity as an aspect of physical wellness.
What is Physical Activity?
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes physical activity as all bodily movements including exercise, moving during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work.
Most of the listed activities are part of our daily lives and are non-negotiable. However, when it comes to being deliberate about physical activity with the aim of achieving physical fitness, the activity becomes exercise.
Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, organized, repetitive, and deliberate with the final goal being to improve or maintain physical wellness.
Who Should Exercise?
Everyone should exercise regardless of age, build, or health status – there’s always an exercise out there for you. If you have a lingering health issue, discuss it with your doctor to ascertain the exercises that will be best for you. Away with the misconception even among the learned that only those seeking to lose weight, body builders or athletes should exercise regularly.
The human body is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, joints, and more. All of these require regular exercise to improve and maintain their function.
While it may not be visible to the human eye, some of these organs start to deteriorate and eventually wither away when not properly and consistently used and exercised. Therefore, as an adult who has never exercised before, it is normal to get exhausted even with the most basic short exercise routine. Meanwhile, children who are most active can stay that way for an entire day and never seem to tire.
How to Start Exercising and how Much to do
Making exercise a habit starts with a commitment to simply begin – and begin slowly too. For most people, it can be great to start at a slow pace and then increase how hard you work and for how long. For instance, you could begin by taking short walks regularly and then over time, increase the distance and speed. For others, stretches to loosen the joints and ligaments before introducing other kinds of exercise may be best.
All these are dependent on your current fitness level. You should know this best since you own the body.
The idea is to start and be consistent with whatever works best for you. You should also set a goal for yourself – a good goal would be to exercise three to four times a week for at least 10-20 minutes each time. If your fitness level cannot absorb this length of time, shorten it and then work to maintain it for some time.
After a while, you’ll notice that your muscles, heart, and body have gotten stronger and what was once hard has become easy. That is your cue to add some resistance to your routine or increase time spent exercising.
Benefits of Exercising
There is a myriad of benefits you stand to gain from exercising. Some of them are listed below:
· It reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity.
· It reduces your risk of certain kinds of cancer including breast, colorectal, and uterine.
· Exercising keeps your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible, making it easier to move around and decreases your chances of falling.
· When you perform core exercises, you strengthen your core which is the bridge between your upper and lower body and improve your posture.
· Exercising reduces some of the effects of aging, especially the discomfort of osteoarthritis.
· It helps to improve your mental well-being and has been fingered as an antidote for depression.
· Exercising helps to relieve stress and anxiety.
· It increases your energy level and endurance.
· It helps to improve sleep.
· It plays a key role in helping a woman have a better experience during childbirth.
· It helps to maintain a normal weight by increasing your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories).
· It also helps in weight loss and strengthens the muscles of the body.
Final words: If you’re a beginner when it comes to exercising, don’t try to do a lot too soon. I recently had a chat with a young lady who was new to fitness. She went to the gym and an instructor invited her to try high-intensity cardio sessions and some weightlifting which she did. The following day, she completely broke down and it left a bad taste in her mouth. Doing too much too soon will cause injuries which will then discourage you from pursuing exercising as a lifestyle.
Remember, as a beginner – start with activities that you find easy and can sustain. Work for a comfortable amount of time and then increase that time each day. As you get stronger, increase your intensity, and explore other exercises that you could add to your routine.
In the end, the goal is to stay deliberately physically active and be in tip-top shape health-wise.
Chinwe Obinwanne is a wife and mother to three adorable kids. She lives and works in Lagos and is the founder of Naijafitmoms Fitness Empire – a fitness company designed to help everyone especially women and mothers make fitness a lifestyle by offering fitness training, guides, motivation, and professional consultancy that make the process of keeping fit possible to imbibe.
She is a professional fitness trainer/consultant who has featured as a guest fitness trainer on Television Continental (TVC)’s Wake Up Nigeria show and Brilla FM. She has also worked with various Nigerian brands to promote fitness within the nation.
She often speaks at company events to encourage a healthy lifestyle and holds specialized online fitness classes for clients all over the world helping them to meet their individual fitness needs.
Connect with her via Instagram and Facebook @naijafitmoms or Twitter @9jafitmoms, and YouTube at Naijafitmoms TV.