Covid has been hard for everyone, and especially for Victorians in lock down. As we come out of the second wave, its important we get some fresh air and stay active. Exercise as many know, is the cure for all ailments – here’s a summary of the latest evidence and Osana’s top ten tips:

  1. It makes us happy by increasing endorphins – as little as 10 minutes per week helps
  2. Related to this, it reduces depression – for example, 6 weeks of yoga can reduce depression symptoms
  3. It reduces chronic pain and the risk of injury by strengthening muscles
  4. It improves our sleep by helping us get to sleep faster, and spending more time in deep, restful sleep
  5. It gives us more energy – 90% of those with fatigue find improvement with regular exercise
  6. It reduces our risk of dementia by 30% (and specifically of Alzheimers Disease by 45%)
  7. It reduces our risk of heart attacks (by 14% if 2.5 hours of exercise per week), as well as improves our blood pressure (8mmHg if 2.5 hours) and
  8. It lowers our risk of diabetes and improves the management of diabetes if you have it (by 0.7 HbA1c)
  9. It lowers our risk of cancer by 20%, especially gastrointestinal, breast, endometrial, liver, kidney, myeloma and lung
  10. It keeps us living longer – 20% lower mortality risk from moderate exercise, 35% lower if high intensity exercise

Whilst these benefits are no longer contentious, it’s often hard to commit to regular exercise. Here are some suggestions:

  • Set yourself a goal – make it SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) e.g. run around the block every day for 15 minutes
  • Write it down – 40% more likely to achieve an exercise goal
  • Share it with others – 70% more likely to follow through
  • Find an accountability partner; exercise with a friend
  • Build into your daily routine (Richard Branson is known to run for 5 minutes every day regardless of motivation, and then decides to keep going or not)
  • Use an App – try Map My Run, Fitness Buddy, Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal or 30 Day Fitness at Home
  • Measure your performance – time, distance, weight, heart rate etc. – and celebrate your progress with a reward
  • Make it fun – an aerobic program had a 94% adherence rate as the participants carpooled to classes together and enjoyed each other’s social network

There are so many ways to exercise and enjoy the outdoors as the weather is warming up. What’s more, it is now known that the better your exercise capacity, the lower the severity of Covid if you are exposed to infection. So, what’s on your health plan to stay fit?

References:

  • https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-exercise-other-than-weight-loss/
  • https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jpm.12168
  • https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02614367.2013.798347
  •  10-min physical activity per week or 1 day of doing exercise per week might result in increased levels of happiness
  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-extend-your-life-2019031316207
  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/does-exercising-at-night-affect-sleep
  • https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/exercise-linked-with-lower-risk-of-13-types-of-cancer.html
  • https://www.totalcoaching.com/blog/exercise-adherence/
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