Gentle Ways to Exercise

Author: Angela Fleming   Date Posted:16 April 2018 

The thought of exercise for some can be the equivalent of an actual nightmare. Thinking of exercise can prove to be gruelling and tiring in itself. Some think ‘I’ll start tomorrow’, and years later find themselves in the same predicament. Whatever the excuse is, I’ve heard them all! My knees hurt, I have a bad back, I have no time, I’m too tired and unfit, I sweat too much etc etc.

So how do we get around the excuses and shift our thinking into something fun, positive and productive? Why not try these 10 gentle tips to get the ball rolling and the blood pumping! 

 

1. Positive attitude & self-belief

This is perhaps the most important step when it comes to exercise. Sometimes we need to quieten that inhibiting little voice in the background that cheeps, ‘no, do it later’ or ‘let’s start next week’. Be firm and tell it to back off! Start thinking of how your body and mind will feel and benefit from some gentle exercise. Research shows there are plenty of health benefits to exercise, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular and mental health. So think positive, you can do this!

 

2. Swimming

Swimming is a great overall body work out and is low impact, which is great for sore joints. Swimming is both a cardio and strengthening exercise, it utilises those muscles you forgot you had! It has been shown to be beneficial for lung health as well as reducing stress levels. The beauty of swimming is that you are in charge of the intensity and pace, go as hard or as gentle as you like, choose your own style, and it’s never too late to learn.

 

3. Walking

Walking is easy! You can do it almost anywhere! And it’s free and easy to include into your daily routine. You only need to start off with 10 minutes per day and aim to build up to half hour to 45 minutes. Choose hills or flat terrain, whichever suits your ability. Take your dog with you or ask a few friends to come along. Research suggests 75 minutes of brisk walking per week can increase your life expectancy by 1.8 years.  

 

4. Lawn bowls

Lawn bowls is a game for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a beginner, a humble game of lawn bowls is still capable of getting your heart rate up. It can be quite the social event too!

 

5. Playing with the grandkids

Hearing the laughter of your little loved ones can fulfil the soul and warm the heart. Being active with your grandkids will benefit your health as well as theirs. Even better, it will create special memories for years to come. There are lots of activities to choose from, whether it be throwing or kicking a ball, a good old game of hide and seek or backyard cricket, the options are limitless.

 

 

6. Hydrotherapy exercises

Hydrotherapy definitely takes the impact out of exercise. Your body is buoyant in water which allows for a more gentle type of exercise. It is perfect for those with joint problems or injuries as it can assist in increasing mobility, improving and maintaining range of movement, improving balance and co-ordination minus the impact. Always seek advice from your physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or general practitioner if you are injured or have existing joint complaints. Check with your local pool in regards to hydrotherapy exercise classes.  

 

7. Yoga & Pilates

Pilates and yoga caters for everyone, from beginner to the advanced. Pilates and yoga lengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in the body, whilst soothing your nerves and calming your mind. Both may improve flexibility, posture, concentration, increase muscle strength, and reduce stress.

 

8. Gardening

No matter the size of your garden, maintaining it is a great way to stay active mentally as well as physically. Gardening assists in improving strength, flexibility and motor skills. Pulling weeds, reaching and bending whilst planting is ideal for exercising many muscles in your body. It is also beneficial for your vitamin D levels and your insides if you are growing fresh produce!

 

9. Progressive resistance training

Muscle weakness, particularly in the elderly is associated with physical function decline. Progressive resistance training (PRT) is designed to increase strength. Individuals exercise muscles against some form of resistance, for example free weights and therabands. Start light and slowly increase as strength improves. Research suggests that PRT can improve physical ability, gait speed, and muscle strength. PRT is also beneficial for bone health and strength; it assists in reducing fractures. Seek the advice of an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist to see which form of resistance training is best for you and to set up an exercise program specific to your needs.

 

10. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise that originated in ancient China. It is low impact and involves coordinated diaphragmatic breathing, with slow and graceful movements to achieve tranquillity of the mind. Research suggests Tai Chi can improve cognitive function, blood flow, reduce stress and promote relaxation.

No matter your age or fitness level, it is never too late to start exercising. Always start slow, and progressively build on your outcomes each session. Exercise doesn’t have to be a gruelling punishment, just take the time to move gently a little bit each day.

 

Reference List

Cheung, T, Liu, K, Wong, J, Bae, YH, Hui, S, Tsang, W, Cheng, Y, Fong, S 2018, ‘Acute Effects of Tai Chi on Cognitive and Cardiovascular Responses in Late Middle-Aged Adults: A Pilot Study’, Evidenced-based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, Vol. 1, Issue 7, Viewed 15 March 2018 <http://www.ebscohost.com>

Liu, C, Latham, NK 2009, ‘Progressive resistance strength training for improving physical function in older adults’, PMC, Viewed 15 March 2018, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov>

Osteoarthritis Australia 2013, Ed 2, Exercise Consumer Guide, Viewed 15 March 2018, <https://www.osteoporosis.org.au>

Queensland Health 2018, The surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, Viewed 15 March 2018, <https://www.health.qld.gov.au>

 

Written by Angela Fleming
Angela Fleming

Angela (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who strongly believes in living a healthy and happy lifestyle. Angela believes being active, taking time out for yourself on a regular basis and consuming a balanced healthy diet (with the odd sneaky treat included now and then) is the fundamental key to keeping our minds and bodies in good health.

Angela loves to pass on her knowledge of healthy and happy living to her two young children, who love to experiment in the kitchen with her and train alongside her in Karate.


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