It’s well known that increasing physical activity has huge health benefits. So why isn’t everyone doing it? One of the biggest challenges to maintaining an exercise programme is to find a way to incorporate it into your life, so that it becomes an enjoyable part of your routine rather than a burden. At iPrescribe Exercise, we believe that physical activity is for everyone and that everyone should be provided with the right tools to find what works for them. In this article, we look to give you tips about choosing the right programme intensity and how you can fit this in to your day so it becomes a habit.
Moderate Vs High Intensity
Firstly, it’s important to choose how hard you are prepared to work. Getting this wrong, usually by pushing too hard initially is one of the biggest causes of people giving up an exercise programme. Guidelines state that most people should be aiming, by the end of a graduated programme, to be completing 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise each week, with either option providing similar health benefits. For some people, with certain conditions it is not safe to complete a high intensity programme initially and the iPrescribe Exercise App will inform you what you can and can’t do. For a definition of what different exercise intensities mean, please look at the iPrescribe Exercise website
A huge plus point for low to moderate intensity activity is that you can usually do it without having to change clothes or shower after. This means that it’s perfect for fitting around daily routines such as work, the school drop off or going to the shops. If you are allowed to complete a high intensity exercise programme, you won’t have to exercise for as long. However, you will most likely make you pretty sweaty, so you’ll need to shower and change afterwards.
We really find that for people who are looking to start becoming active are much more likely to stick with a graduated and individualised low to moderate intensity programme. Remember, you are not selling yourself short by doing this – the health benefits are very similar as those for a high intensity programme.
The Importance of Planning
Once you have your programme, it is important to spend a few minutes to work out how you are going to fit it in to your schedule. This doesn’t always have to be a detailed plan, but giving some thought on how you plan to achieve your goals will make you much more likely you will succeed. Some people even find that it works best to “book” your exercise into a diary, just like you would with any other appointment. Have a look at how your programme progresses week on week (“My Plan” on the iPrescribe Exercise App) and allow for this when you’re planning.
When planning, the following can be useful points to consider;
- Think of your exercise session as an appointment and if, for any reason you have to miss a session, make sure you re-schedule it for another time.
- You don’t need to do your session all at once. Divide up your daily activity into blocks of 10 minutes or more. You can do some in the morning, some at lunch and some in the evening.
- Experiment with different types of physical activity (gym, walking, cycling etc) to see what if best for you. Remember it needs to be sustainable, so think of things that work for you.
- You can mix it up. One day go to the gym, the next day walk.
- Home Aerobics is a great way to get active without leaving your house. iPrescribe Exercise has specifically designed home aerobics videos at low, moderate and high intensity
- Gardening, housework or DIY are great ways to be active. Just make sure you’re working at the correct intensity.
- Think about whether you would like to exercise alone, with a friend or in a group. Everybody has different preferences regarding this and social support can really help staying motivated if it is right for you. If you’re thinking of exercising in a pair or group there are some things to look for.
- Organise an exercise group in your workplace. This is great for your employers, as active workers are happier, more productive and take less time off work. Sell it like this and you might even get them to cough up for a gym membership!
- If you do have a period where you stop your exercise programme, don’t despair. Re-evaluate the programme and see if there was any reason for stopping, fix it and get back to it! iPrescribe Exercise allows you to re-start your programme from any point (in the “My Plan” section).
Active commuting is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Cities and towns are finally waking up to the idea that getting more people commuting actively improves traffic congestion, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions as well as getting people more active and generally making communities more vibrant places to live. Remember, that although pollution is annoying, the benefits of active commuting outweigh the health risks of pollution and actually, being in a car won’t stop you from being exposed to the pollution. If it’s feasible, walking or cycling are obvious ways to complete your activity, but if it’s not possible to be do this for the entire journey, other ideas include;
- Walk or cycle to the train station
- Get off the bus or train 1 stop early and walk the rest. In cities that have cycle hire schemes, you could even cycle the last 15 minutes of your journey often missing out the busiest section of public transport.
- If you have to drive to a train station, find a place to park that is away from the station and then walk the rest. As well as getting active, you’ll save a whole lot in extortionate station car parking prices
Ultimately there are many ways for you to complete your programme and as long as you are working at the correct intensity for the right amount of time, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. We also have a forum on HealthUnlocked and we’d love to hear your stories about becoming active as you just might inspire others to follow your lead!
If you have any other questions or would like further information, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.