People are less active nowadays partly because technology has made our lives easier. We move around less, and burn off less energy than we used to.We drive cars or take buses. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen.There are fewer people doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Housework, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.
This means that each of us needs to think about increasing the types of activities that suit our lifestyle and can easily be included in our day. For some people, this could mean walking more briskly with the kids to and from school, or cycling to and from work. For others, taking part in a more structured activity, such as a dance class or a gym session, a few times a week may be the most practical way of keeping fit and building activity into your daily routine.
Every little helps, and the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times a week can be done in two or three 10 to 15 minute blocks. The 30-minutes-a-day guidelines can help with weight management. But for many people, especially if there’s no change in diet, 45 to 60 minutes of activity each day may be needed to prevent obesity.
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. People who lead an active life are less likely to get ill and more likely to live longer. Exercise not only makes you physically fitter, it also improves your mental health and general sense of wellbeing. It’s important that physical activity is a part of life for children adults and older people. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous workout – you can find ways to fit being active into your daily routine, such as walking. Exercise is a great stress-buster. It can help you lose weight but, more importantly, it will lower your risk of developing major chronic diseases.
For more information visit the Stress Management section of the NHS website.
At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days a week is all that you need to start reaping the health benefits. Children and young people need to be active for at least an hour every day, for example, through active play, sport or walking to and from school. We know that reduced or no physical activity can have serious health consequences. Even a little bit of activity can lower the risk of developing major chronic diseases. The benefits of physical activity include:
- Better health
- More energy
- Reduced stress
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Better balance
- Strength, suppleness and mobility
- Improved sleep
- Improved body shape
- Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
- More social opportunitiesa sense of achievement
- More independence in later life
For more information visit the Strong Bones section of the NHS website.
Make sure you take steps to stay injury free and remember that nutrition and hydration also play an important role. Eating the correct nutrients provides the fuel you need to exercise and drinking fluids helps to prevent dehydration.
Why do I need to exercise?
Bones and joints: You’re more likely to have lower back pain if you don't do any exercise. Eight out of 10 people have lower back pain at some time in their lives, but people who exercise are less likely to get it. If you do have lower back pain, exercise can help to reduce it.
Regular, moderate activity, including walking, swimming and cycling can help to treat and reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis, with about eight out of 10 people over 50 affected by the condition. It may also prevent and slow progression of osteoarthritis.
Children and exercise
Physical activity can increase bone mineral density in children and help to maintain strong bones in adolescents. It also slows down bone degeneration later in life. This can help to prevent osteoporosis – when your bones become brittle and more prone to break. High-impact exercise such as running and skipping puts weight on your bones and increases bone density in younger people. But choose low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, such as gentle walking or swimming, if you already have osteoporosis.
Ten Tips to Top Back Care;
- For back pain, better to see your osteopath sooner than later.
- Take regular exercise – your osteopath can say what is right for you.
- Hours in one position can cause problems – avoid ‘computer hump’.
- During repetitive tasks, vary your rhythm and take frequent breaks.
- Adjust car seats and on long journeys take regular breaks to stretch.
- Pace yourself with heavy work like gardening – do not risk a disc!
- Watch children’s posture – they should not carry bags on one shoulder or spend too long at a computer without breaks.
- During pregnancy, osteopathy can help your body adjust to changes.
- Avoid strain when lifting, particularly small children and shopping.
- Your bed could be part of the problem. Seek osteopathic advice on choosing a new one
Exercises to Avoid with a Bad Back;
- Team/contact sports
- Bodybuilding/Weight training
- For recommended exercises seek advice from your Osteopath!
The aims of stretching are to gently lengthen muscles before and after any form of exercise, and to improve tissue flexibility. If done correctly, stretching will help prevent injuries and increase athletic performance. Always warm up the body prior to stretching, as this increases blood flow around the body, which makes the muscles more supple. Begin with gradual mobility exercises of all the joints. Never bounce whilst you stretch, unless you are doing specific stretches for certain sports. After exercise, slowly bring your heart rate down before you begin stretching in order to avoid blood pooling within your muscles, this can lead to dizzy spells.
For more information vist the Stretching Institute website.
Physical activity can boost mental wellbeing and change your outlook on life. It can help people with anxiety and depression, and might even prevent such problems from developing in the first place.
Yoga and Pilates
Many of our patients find yoga and Pilates useful tools for maintain flexibility and efficient use of their body. Both disciplines may also be beneficial in aiding recovery from musculoskeletal injuries.
In our opinion, if they are well taught by suitably qualified instructors and preferably in a small class situation, they can be a useful adjunct to our own osteopathic work.
For further information, take a look at the following links.