Health tip of the week
Don’t aim too high: short, sharp bursts of activity are perfect
The kids are back at school and soon the days will get shorter, but while our instinct may be to hibernate in front of the TV, it’s important to keep exercise programmes going. Regular physical activity reduces your risk of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and depression.
According to the HSE’s new Get Ireland Active initiative, “if you want to feel better, have more energy and maybe even live longer, then get up, get out and get active – it really can transform your life.”
“Just one out of every three people in Ireland is active on a regular basis,” says a HSE spokeswoman. “Yet making exercise a part of everyday life is easier than you think and doesn’t have to involve a gym or any equipment.
“It can be as simple as a person taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, or washing the car by hand instead of going to the car wash.”
Dr Julie Broderick, assistant professor in the department of physiotherapy at Trinity College, agrees. While guidelines state that adults (18-64 years) should carry out five 30-minute sessions each week (or 150 minutes in total per week) of “moderate” aerobic exercise, for those who don’t have much time, there are ways in which this can be achieved easily.
“A combination of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming would be fine – and this can be broken into smaller bouts of exercise of no less than 10 minutes,” she says. “Even doing a little compared to doing no activity at all benefits your health, so any activity you do is helpful and, generally, the more the better.”
The guidelines are the same for people over 65 although it’s recommended to incorporate muscle-strengthening and balance-training into your routine.
Health Tip of the Week is sponsored by Pfizer as part of its Healthy Town initiative. Every year Pfizer selects a town to take part in a unique initiative aimed at showing you – no matter what age you are, or indeed, where you live – simple steps to improve your health. irishtimes.com/sponsored/healthy-town