What is it?
Physical activity, gosh where shall I start? I suppose the fundamental aim of this blog is to increase your awareness of what physical activity is and to inspire you to become more physically active every day so that you are a happier, healthier version of you. Now, you may have noticed that I am using the term ‘physical activity’ which is different to ‘sport and exercise’.
The term physical activity is really quite simple, it means being physically active; therefore sleeping and being still (sedentary) are NOT examples of being physically active and are actually examples of being physically inactive (I hope you are following this). Here in the UK, our government recommend that adults are physically active for a mere 150 minutes over an entire week, in order to reap the health benefits. Personally, I think it should be more like an hour a day. Yet, despite recommendations, not every one is meeting their 150 minute per week recommended target. Our sloth like physical inactivity behaviour causes 3.2 million deaths globally. Why you ask? Because being physically inactive has proven to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, some cancers, anxiety, depression and more.
Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour
So why are so many people so inactive you ask? Well, quite frankly there’s not really one simple answer such as, they’re just lazy. There could be many possible answers such as, having an office job (and therefore sedentary most of the day) having to travel far (on the underground or in the car) not having enough time in the day (full time job and looking after 3 children) horrible weather (dark and cold and therefore unmotivated to go for a run) increased use of technology (sitting on mobiles and tablets whilst watching tv) – I suppose the list is endless. Now my attention turns to you…
How physically active are you, honestly? Do you feel that you should be doing more, but can’t be bothered or don’t have the energy/time? Whatever your situation, it’s time to be more mindful of your physical activity levels to make you healthier and happier. I’m not saying go for a really long run every single day, as if! But what I am saying is that you could go for a nice walk with your dog or friends in the evening instead of being glued to Netflix and Facebook. You could go surfing with your friends on the weekend. You could walk or cycle to work (you get the idea).
Examples and benefits of physical activity
There are many different examples of ‘types’ of physical activity, such as:
- Moderate aerobic physical activity – such as dancing, walking your dog, a casual bike ride, canoeing, playing badminton, playing frizbee, gardening, doing house chores, playing with children, strawberry picking.
- Intense aerobic physical activity – such as running, swimming, ball games, gym classes.
- Anaerobic physical activity – such as swimming sprints, running sprints, bike sprints.
- Muscle strengthening activities – such as weight machines, free weights and body exercises.
Now if I can’t persuade you to be more physically active because of the consequences of being sendentary, how about I tell you some of the wonderful health benefits of being physically active. It’s really quite interesting how your body adapts!
- It reduces your risk of developing chronic diseases
- Strengthens your bones and muscles
- Helps towards your weight control (I will expand on this)
- Releases endorphins (happy hormone, I can write about this)
- Relieves stress and tension you may have
- Improves your mood and mental health
- It reduces the risk of falls in older people
- It increases your chances of living longer (longevity)
- It makes you fitter (lower resting heart rate for example)
Physical activity and weight loss
Right, this may come as a shock to some of you, but exercise/sport/physical activity ALONE, does not help you lose weight. When I say ‘alone’ I mean without a healthier diet. Now let that sink in and allow me to explain clearly why, and let me just add that it’s not your fault for thinking this is true, it’s bad advertising and other peoples’ lack of understanding. First things first, YES exercising is amazing for your body. It is true that it will help towards living longer and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases, but sadly you will not lose weight. DIET is about the pounds and exercise is about inches and your better health and you will not witness disease prevention when standing on your scales in your bathroom. But if you want to lose weight and NOT lose muscle mass, you will need to exercise along side eating a healthier and more balanced diet. Please note that ‘diet’ does not mean atkins diet etc. It just means cutting out all the processed rubbish and junk food and making healthier choices, which I can write about another day.
But, let me tell you this, it is fat better to be fat and fit, than thin and sedentary. If you’re still thinking that it’s NOT diet and it is exercise that make you lose weight, let me give you another example. Have you ever heard of Anorexia Nervosa? Anorexia is an eating disorder, whereby a person will restrict their calorie intake by significantly reducing what they eat, or they do this by not eating anything at all and therefore starve. It is because of this calorie restriction that those with anorexia lose a significant amount of weight via fat and muscle loss and this is why they appear ‘bony’. Therefore if you want to lose weight through diet, but you don’t exercise, you will lose muscle weight too. I will be writing a blog about anorexia in the near future.
What I am trying to say is this, the calories you eat may make you put on weight, and in theory if ‘a calorie is a calorie’ (i.e they’re all the same) then effectively when you exercise and ‘burn calories’ then the calories you consume will burn off. For instance if you ate 3,000 calories and then burnt off 3,000 calories, but this is not true. This has been proven by scientific studies, which have demonstrated that obese people had to eat nearly 4,000 calories LESS, to burn off 1 pound of fat. Also, let me just remind you of what I said earlier, exercise strengthens and builds muscle and therefore does not reduce your weight. This is also proven true by the fact that EVERY exercise DVD, professional, fitness expert etc will provide you with a nutritional diet plan with your fitness plan.
Also, when talking about energy expenditure, physical activity is actually the minority. In actual fact, you burn approximately 60% of your calories via your ‘resting energy expenditure’, i.e sleeping and sitting. Yes, this may now cause a lot of confusion seeing as I am promoting being physically active, but it’s true and I am still rambling on about weight loss. Let me try to explain this a little better, take Michael Phelps the Olympic swimmer, he eats over 10,000 calories a day. There’s no way he burns off over 10,000 calories whilst training. How does this work you ask? Exercise increases muscle mass (increased mitochondria if you want to know) and this means that you burn more energy at rest (resting energy expenditure). So, exercise builds muscle, muscle burns energy at rest.
Make a small, positive change this week and by incorporating more physical activity into your routine. Even if you just do something 1 day this week, that’s 1 more day than you did before. You will feel much better for it and your mind and body will thank you! On that note, I better go and take my little puppy for a walk!
© 2016 Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.