Love it or hate it we are all aware that it is good for us but 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men in England are classed as physically inactive, that is doing less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Many of us have really good intentions but life can easily get in the way, sometimes it simply hard to put ourselves first when we have a busy job and family life.
Lets talk first about the benefits or the reasons we should make time for ourselves to go out for a walk, ride a bike, go to the gym or take part in an exercise class.
There are a number of different ways in which exercise or any physical activity helps to ease pain these include:
- Reducing the danger signals the body sends to your brain, which lead to you experiencing pain. Danger signals are basically telling the brain that the body is under threat, that there is a risk of harm, which is helpful if you have broken a leg because the protective response (muscle spasm, increase in heart rate, pain with movement etc) will prevent you causing more harm. However, if there is no injury, or the injury was months ago pain and the protective responses are no longer needed, in fact they can cause more pain. Any movement (so any exercise) stimulates specialist sensory nerves, which interrupt these danger signals, so you experience less pain and protective muscle spasm. The more you move the less pain you get!
- Strengthening your muscles helps to provide much better support to the back, hip, knee and shoulder joints to name a few!
- Improving the blood supply to your heart, lungs, digestive system as well as all of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and capsules that surround the joints. Keeping our tissue healthy and aiding with recovery from injury.
- Keeping your joints mobile – we are designed to move! If we don’t move enough or avoid certain activities the body begins to see movement as a threat, creating the cycle of pain and protective muscle spasm.
- Any weight-bearing activity helps to stimulate the production of bone cells to help keep our bones strong and healthy
Keeps Us Flexible & Well Balanced
- Balance is often neglected and taken for granted but is more and more important as we age. A loss of balance can seriously affect confidence and have a real impact on our lifestyle. Making sure we have a flexible spine and pelvis, mobile feet and are able to move in lots of different directions are just some of the ways we keep well balanced.
Reduces Stress & Increase Energy Levels
- Stress increase the amount of cortisol (a hormone released when we worry) in our blood stream which is fine in short bursts because it raises your heart rate, makes you more alert (Fight, Flight or Fright) so you can react quickly if you are in danger. However, persistent high levels of cortisol can have a detrimental affect on your body and reduce the quality of your sleep. Certain exercise (high energy) will temporarily raise your cortisol levels but doing this type of activity on a regular basis will have reduce the background levels over time. Other exercise such as yoga will reduce these levels during the class leaving you feeling calmer and thinking more clearly.
- Exercise also provides a distraction from any worries you may have for an hour or so, releases happy hormones (endorphins) and can be a great place to meet new friends
It keeps our brain healthy!
General health benefits of being physically active
Source: Public Health England
So why if exercise does so many good things why do some of us still find it difficult to find time to do it?
I don’t have time…
I have put this first because I use this ‘reason’ for putting off things I need to do! Also to be honest I hear this a lot in clinic – sorry J. There is no getting away from it you need to find time. Getting up 30 mins earlier in the morning, going out for a walk at lunch time, walking to or from work/school or walking two or three bus stops further on than your normal stop. We can always find other things that need to be done first are more important, but what is MORE important than YOUR health?
I can’t afford to join the gym…
Walking is incredibly good for you and it’s free!
I am waiting until I have been on holiday, kids go back to school, I have the right clothes…
There may never be an ideal time or situation but I know that once you have made that initial effort to just do it you will feel so much better. Is it really a question of time or just a way of putting it off? If it was something that was really important to you could you find the time?
I am scared / worried about making my pain worse or causing myself some harm or damage…
Now I completely understand these feelings partly because I have been in this position and because there are so many mixed messages about which exercises are good and those that may cause damage. So let me reassure you exercise is never bad for you, yes you may need to try a few different things to see what suits you but there is always something you can do. I talked earlier about how exercise can ease your pain I do understand that if you have arthritis in your hips or knees you may choose not to run but there are so many things you CAN do. You do need to know you are in safe hands so my advice would be to:
- Make sure you are asked to fill in a medical questionnaire before you start any exercise in a new place
- Check the instructors have the correct qualifications
- That the instructor introduces themselves to you and asks you (privately) if you have any medical / physical conditions that may affect your ability to take part
- They check that you are ok / you can see that they are monitoring you and your classmates throughout the class
- Offers you modification / alternative exercise if you are finding it difficult
- Checks in with you after the class has finished to see how you have got on
- Look for beginners classes if you are new to exercise / haven’t been in a while / trying something different
- If you have back or joint pain / heart or lung issues look for classes that are run specifically for people with those conditions
- TRUST your instinct! If it feels good and you enjoyed it carry on!
- Variety – try a mixture of different exercises / classes. Ideally some that get your heart rate going, some that focus on making you stronger and don’t underestimate the benefit of relaxation and stretching that classes like Yoga will provide.
Please remember there is no ONE type of exercise that fits all.
Pain is NOT an accurate measure of tissue damage – Exercise is SAFE as with any new exercise you build up the intensity (how hard it is) and the duration over time.
Good Pain! You may well experience pain / discomfort after exercising especially if it’s the first time in a while or if you are doing something you haven’t done before. This comes on over the next day or two and is called DOMS (delayed onset muscular soreness) and is a normal part of getting stronger. This is just a sign of your muscles adapting to the new demands on it the more you do the stronger you get as your muscles grow in size ready for the next time you exercise!
I have no back or joint problems or weight issues so I don’t need to exercise….
Exercise is for EVERYBODY! The research has shown that physical inactivity is responsible for an estimated:
- 10.5% of coronary heart disease
- 13.0% of type 2 diabetes
- 17.9% of breast cancer
- 18.7% of colon cancer
- 16.9% of deaths from any cause
Source: NHS Health News July 2012
So can you afford not to exercise?
So how often and how much?
So how can we help get you started?
We understand that finding the right class and place to go to is essential to help you feel safe and to help you keep motivated. So we are very pleased to be able to offer you and a friend or family member a FREE weeks trial at our Movement Studio – so you can try up to 6 classes for FREE!
Our classes include:
- Pilates & Clinical Pilates (run by one of our lovely physios Sally)
- Yoga (including some beginners classes)
- Healthy Back classes (run by our physios)
- Specialist yoga & fitness classes for the over 60’s
- Yoga for those with back or joint pain
- Exercise class for Ladies only
- Specialist runners / sports enthusiasts strength & conditioning circuits
- TRX suspension circuit class
All you need to do to sign up for your FREE taster week is click on the link below:
or call us on 0114 274 7722 and let the reception know you have seen the offer in Meadowhead Physio newsletter
I look forward to seeing you very soon!
Jenny Manners MCSP