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Exercise Tips for Busy Lives

February 2024

Sometimes the week can seem so jam-packed that finding the time to exercise is exhausting. Fitting exercise into a busy schedule is a challenge, but we all know how important daily exercise is to our overall health and well being. In this article, we look at the fundamentals of daily exercise and present practical suggestions to easily incorporate exercise into your busy life.

Minimum exercise recommendations for your age group and body:

The right amount and type of exercise you need varies from person to person. It depends on your age and other factors like disabilities, pregnancy, or pre-existing medical conditions.The Department of Health and Aged Care has published Physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians. This great online resource breaks down physical activity guidelines by age and health condition. It recommends that adults aged 18-64 be active most days of the week, with approximately 20-45 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per day, or 10-20 min of vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. It recommends muscle strengthening activities 2 days a week, and that adults who are currently not very active gradually build up to the recommended amount.It recommends older Australians, aged 65+, get 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, incorporating muscle-strengthening activities, while young people aged15–17 should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, involving mainly aerobic activities.

Types of exercise:

While all forms of exercise are beneficial to your overall health, different types have specific benefits. You should try to incorporate different types of exercise into your weekly routine. For example, endurance, or aerobic activities,increase your breathing and heart rates, improving the health of your lungs, heart and circulatory system. Strength, or resistance training, can be particularly beneficial to older adults who want to maintain their muscle mass, strength, mobility,and independence. Balance and lower-body exercises help to reduce the risk of falls. Activities that improve flexibility, like stretching, help to keep your joints mobile, improve blood flow, decrease your risk of injury, and improve your performance in other physical activities.  

High-impact exercise is great for kids and young people with developing bodies, improving bone density. For adults, depending on your health and fitness level, high-impact or weight-bearing exercises can help to slow the rate of natural bone loss, which occurs after the age of 35. Low-impact exercise, on the other hand, is great for older people, or people with disabilities,injuries or underlying medical conditions. Low-impact exercise has fewer risks of injury and allows people to focus on recovery, enjoyment, strength building and flexibility.

Exercise intensity and finding the right balance for your body:

According to the Victorian Department of Health’s Better Health Channel, you can measure exercise intensity using target heart rates, the talk test, or the exertion rating scale. For example, while doing your exercise, if you can comfortably talk, but not sing (which demands extra effort), you are exercising at moderate intensity. However, if you cannot say more than a few words without gasping for breath, you are exercising at a vigorous intensity.

Top tips for fitting exercise into a busy schedule

Write out your weekly plan or routine – this is especially handy for busy people and if you live in a household with different family members or dependents. A visual breakdown of the week will empower you to keep in control of your routine. It reduces timetable clashes while reminding everyone of what is up next.

Morning or evening stretch routine – there are many great daily stretching routines available online. See the 5-Minute Daily Stretching Routine and 10 Stretches Every Day. Salute to the Sun is a great yoga sequence combining breathing and stretches and is suitable to do each morning.

Early morning or after dinner walk – if you are a dog owner you will know all about the pressure (and joy) of fitting in a daily walk with your furry friend. For busy people who are tired after a day's work, running the kids around, and feeding the family, a walk might seem too hard. However, it does not have to be far - just around the block will do, and it is pretty much guaranteed to leave you feeling relaxed and in a good mood.

Weekly active activities to look forward to – try to participate in at least one weekly active activity outside the home with other people. Swimming, hill walking, rock climbing, bike riding, dancing, or team sports like soccer, are all good options.Team sports are great for kids as they learn a lot about working as a team at the same time as having fun, making friends, and getting exercise. For older people, participating in active activities outside the home provides physical,social, and cognitive benefits and some group exercise classes are designed especially for this age group.

Apps for building the perfect workout routine – while technology often leaves us sedentary, there are many apps and free YouTube tutorials available that can help develop your skills and create and track workout and fitness routines. Canstar has a list of 10 fitness apps, while YouTube offers unlimited yoga routines, stretching routines, dance lessons and other tutorials to engage and motivate you. If you just want to write down your workout routine for reference, here are some recommended note-taking apps.

It is important to exercise the right amount, with proper form and technique, to prevent injury or over-exertion. This means taking the time to learn a new activity and using guides and instructors when necessary. Your GP can provide great personalised advice for keeping active. They will carefully consider your medical history and can advise on things like measuring your target heart rate,the best types of exercise for your situation, or starting a new exercise routine after illness or injury. You can book an appointment with a Private Medical online doctor here.

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