What sort of exercise is ‘best’?
What’s best depends on many things. Above all, it needs to be something that you’re likely to keep doing! This could be an activity – like walking – that you can do anytime, anyplace, any weather, for timeout by yourself or with your partner, other family members or friends. From a health and healthy-aging perspective, ‘best’ would ideally also include a variety of activities and types of movement; doing reasonably heavy manual jobs at home (mowing the lawn, chopping wood, etc), walking on a variety of terrain (esp. hills) and surfaces (including sand), taking the stairs wherever possible, etc.
I was never a good runner, and didn’t enjoy it anyway, but people say it gives the best improvements in health and fitness. Is that true?
No. Whereas running is very effective at improving aerobic fitness it is not any better than activities such as informal soccer practice at improving overall fitness and health. Also, an ‘appropriate’ exercise intensity might look very different for people of different fitness levels because it is only dependent on how much your internal bodily systems have to respond to cope with the activity. An appropriate intensity for a less fit person might be walking, whereas it might be running quickly for a highly fit person. See also Question on “What sort of exercise is best?”.
Is it safe to exercise?
Generally yes, provided you increase your level of activity gradually. Increasing exercise (especially running) levels too quickly is the major cause of injuries. The risk of having a heart attack is increased during exercise, but the overall risk of dying from a heart attack in any given year is reduced – to a larger extent! – by regular exercise. Before starting an exercise programme you should complete a simple questionnaire to help determine whether it’s safe to start now or check with your doctor first (http://uwfitness.uwaterloo.ca/PDF/par-q.pdf).
I’m happy with my body shape, so why do I need to be physically active?
Being more physically active has many benefits for quality of life, health and healthy aging regardless of any effect it may have on body shape or body fat mass. Several long-running research studies have now shown that people who are lean but unfit have about double the risk of early death from cardiovascular diseases and all causes compared with people who are overweight but fit. This highlights the very real problems with stereotypes about body shape and fitness.
I have a desk job but I exercise once a day on at least a few days of the week; isn’t that enough?
Unfortunately, seating time seems to be an independent predictor of ill health, so it’s important to move around regularly when at work or watching TV.
I don’t have time to exercise for the recommended 30 minutes per day; what’s the solution?
It’s becoming increasingly evident that shorter periods of physical activity across the day may be at least as beneficial as one long period of activity. Active transport such as walking or biking to and from work, or walking to do jobs, can be an excellent way to get your recommended dose of activity.
How much should I drink when exercising?
For most people, most of the time, it’s quite sufficient to be guided by thirst. This is a different message than you often hear in the media and sports science literature, which generally advises people that they cannot rely on their thirst. The common advice of needing to drink eight glasses of water over and above other beverages appears not to have any scientific basis. People who may want to drink more (e.g., by 2-3 glassfuls) than thirst would dictate, are as follows:
- Anyone exercising competitively for more than 30-60 minutes, especially if it’s unusually hot or they’re heavily clothed;
- Older adults who’ve lost a lot of sweat, because they tend to rehydrate more slowly than younger adults;
- People performing resistance exercise (e.g., ‘weights’) who want to obtain the maximum possible strength gain; and
- People who do not undertake any regular physical activity.
Should I exercise on an empty stomach?
This depends on your preference, and what you’re doing. Some people get nauseous if they eat before exercise, and for others it appears to be the opposite. Likewise, there is no strong scientific evidence that exercising on an empty stomach (typically before breakfast) is better or worse for fitness development than eating something beforehand. There is some indication that – on average – males get more fitness benefit from exercising on an empty stomach whereas females do not. If you’re doing heavy resistance exercise it’s better to have a protein containing meal or drink (e.g., milk) close to the timing of the exercise (before and/or afterward). Also, older adults probably benefit more from having something like a milkshake shortly after exercise, whether it’s aerobic exercise (e.g., walking or cycling) or resistance exercise (e.g., heavy work).
Who runs the MoveMe campaign?
MoveMe is a Getting Dunedin Active initiative that involves many project partners (see the About section of the site to view the full list of partners). All the partners are committed to significantly increasing the number of people in Dunedin leading active, healthy and enjoyable lives.
Why was MoveMe developed?
MoveMe was developed to increase Dunedin peoples’ awareness of and participation in physical activity. It is also intended as a resource to combine information from a number of providers and partners and present it in a cohesive format making it a ‘one stop shop’ for physical activity in Dunedin.
Who funds MoveMe?
The Dunedin City Council is currently the main funder for the MoveMe campaign. HEHA is also contributing financially to this initiative. A number of the other partners are contributing a considerable amount of their time and resources to the campaign.