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Exercise for better health

Following on from my article on swimming, I would like to continue the theme by talking about exercise more generally. As an Osteopath, I am keen to encourage my patients to take regular exercise, but often they are confused about what type to do – and how to get started.

The benefits and different types of exercise

Most people just think of the physical benefits of exercise. However, research has shown that exercise may also improve memory and concentration in those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and may reduce the rate of decline. Also the endorphins released in exercise can have multiple natural benefits as an anti-depressant, painkiller and may strengthen our immune system.

There are four different types of exercise and it is most beneficial to incorporate them all. By doing this you will create better all round health and reduce the risk of injury.

Aerobic: to increase your heart rate and breathing, reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, type 2 diabetes.

Strengthen: increase your muscle strength by exercising with resistance (using weights, resistance bands or even water, i.e. swimming). Don’t forget the importance of building bone strength too, to avoid osteoporosis, by weight bearing exercise (walking, jogging, tennis etc.)

Flexibility: stretching your muscles to keep more mobile whether by static stretches, yoga, Pilates roller etc.

Balance: our ability to balance deteriorates as we get older and so improving this with lower body strengthening exercises such as yogic balance poses, Tai Chi, helps to prevent falls.

How to get started

Getting started can be hard, particularly if you are in pain, however, there is strong evidence to suggest that avoiding exercise for such people, can lead to more disability. Remember that muscles that are not healthy get sore more quickly, so feeling sore and stiff after exercise, is not normally an indication of having done damage to your body, it’s a natural reaction to a return to taking exercise.

Start with gentle regular exercise and increase your levels slowly as your body allows. Make sure it is an activity you enjoy, otherwise your enthusiasm will wain.

Free exercise plan

If you are still in doubt on how to get started or what type of exercise would be most appropriate for you, our Osteopaths do offer a free exercise assessment / plan as part of your Osteopathy consultation/treatment.

So make sure you have an exercise plan ahead of the winter, to ward away the effects of the bad weather!