It's never too late to find an exercise routineby Veronika Meduna
A walking route that includes hills is a great place to start exercising.
- To get started, walking is usually safe at any age and level of fitness, and you can challenge yourself with hills.
- Studies have singled out certain types of exercise: high-intensity interval training has been shown to reverse ageing processes in cells; running has been shown to increase life expectancy. But a mix of different activities is the best way to take care of different parts of your body.
- Aerobic exercise boosts your heart rate and breathing temporarily and allows more oxygen to reach your muscles. Brisk walking, swimming, kapa haka and even some household chores will give your heart and lungs a moderate workout. Running, team sports and waka ama provide more vigorous exercise.
- Strength or resistance training slows bone loss and builds muscle. For this you might need equipment such as weight machines in the gym or dumbbells or resistance bands that can be used at home. Start without weights with exercises that strengthen the upper and lower body, but make sure to leave at least 48 hours between sessions to give your muscles time to recover.
- Balance exercises include poses borrowed from tai chi, yoga and Pilates. They can help prevent falls caused by muscle weakness or unsteadiness, whereas flexibility exercises reverse the shortening and tightening of muscles that happen with age or an inactive lifestyle.
- The Ministry of Health recommends 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week, with a goal of doubling it over time. Three to four sessions of cardiovascular exercise together with two or three strength-building or balance routines is a good mix.
- However, if you are new to exercise, have been inactive for a long time or have any medical conditions, check with your GP first for advice on which exercises are best for you.
This article was first published in the May 20, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
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