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4 OF THE BEST EXERCISES YOU CAN EVER DO

Oheneba Kwakye Omane
Oheneba Kwakye Omane

Exercise is one way to get your body in the right direction of good health. We live in an era where we stare at one screen after another - smartphones, computers, TV screens, sometimes up to eight hours a day. Most of us spend more time on the screens than we do sleeping and with continuous mechanization, even manual occupations require less physical activity. But vibrant health requires activity, movement and exercise. Good health is not only about not feeling unwell but it is about feeling whole from a physical, mental, social and spiritual point of view.

Exercise is a vital part of the package of complete health and the goal of exercise to maintain or enhance our overall physical fitness and general health. Very often, people exercise to strengthen their muscles, optimize their cardiovascular system, control body weight, develop  athletic skills, improve physical appearance, facilitate general wellness and mental alertness. Also to socialize and have fun.

Lets say you are not a professional athlete but you fancy some work out routines for your health or to fit in your clothes better. One thing we can bet on is that - going to the gym could be quite discouraging or even daunting. Just having to walk by treadmills, stationary bikes, and weight machines can be enough to make you head straight back home to hit the couch.

Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon. These “workouts” can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.

No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:

Strength training

Do not only associate strength training to a macho and hefty activity, since strength training is not only about bulking up muscle. Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong. “If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time,” Dr. Lee says.
Muscle also helps burn calories. “The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight,” says Dr. Lee. Strength training might also help preserve your cognitive ability to remember. Some mind blowing gains of strength training are improved mobility and flexibility, boosted brain health, osteoporosis prevention and management, reduced cancer risk and controlled blood sugar levels.

Before starting a weight training program, be sure to learn the proper form. Start light with just one or two pounds. You should be able to lift the weights 10 times with ease. After a couple of weeks, increase that by a pound or two. If you can easily lift the weights through the entire range of motion more than 12 times, move up to slightly heavier weight.

Swimming

You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Research finds that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Water aerobics is another option. These classes help you burn calories and tone up. Ideally, you need to start with slow and warm up into this exercise if you are new to this since starting with a very high intensity, you could easily give up due to muscle soreness and fatigue.

Walking

Walking is simple yet potent. Walking could even be the most underrated form of exercise. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease for example). A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.
All you need is a well-fitting and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10-15 minutes at a time. Over time you can start to walk farther and faster until you’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.

Kegel exercises

These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with Kegels, these exercises can benefit men too.

To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze and release the muscles you would use to stop urination or prevent you from passing gas. Alternate quick squeezes and releases with longer contractions that you hold for 10 seconds, and the release for 10 seconds. Work up to three 3 sets of 10-15 Kegel exercises each day. Several factors can weaken the pelvic floor muscles such as radical prostatectomy - the surgical removal of the prostate, overactive bladder and conditions such as diabetes. Doing kegel exercises regularly within a few weeks and months has shown to bring positive results.

In conclusion let us briefly look at these few components of a good exercise program:

Frequency - this is how often you exercise. For cardio, most exercise specialists suggest moderate exercise five days a week or intense cardio three days a week to improve your health. For weight loss, you may need to do up to six or more days a week.

Intensity - this involves how hard you exercise. The type of exercise would determine its intensity. For instance, for strength training, the amount of weight you lift and your sets and repetition determine the intensity of your workouts.

Time - this is how long you should exercise. Basic or general guidelines suggest that your goal should be 30-60 minutes per session. You need to begin slowly and gradually work up your time, not jump-starting with an hour of exercise right away.

As you follow this basic exercise outline, it will help you adjust your workouts to avoid boredom, overuse injuries and weight loss plateaus. As long as you’re doing some form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and you include two days of strength training a week, you can consider yourself an “active” person.

Oheneba Kwakye Omane

Health Enthusiast and Futurist