Exercise. What does it mean? An interesting article in the Daily Telegraph* recently highlighted what exercise isn’t or what it shouldn’t be.
A London gym – I won’t name them because I don’t want to give them the publicity – recently issued a press release, where they boasted of a class so extreme that they had defibrillators on hand.
Exercise is vital for type 2 diabetics – and type 1s too, though there is less research on exercise and type 1s, as there are fewer of us. The health benefits of exercise for type 2s include:
- It helps your body use insulin more effectively, which will give you better control over your diabetes
- It burns extra body fat
- It strengthens your muscles and bones
- It improves your blood flow
- It lowers your blood pressure, cuts LDL cholesterol levels and raises HDL cholesterol
- It boosts your energy and mood, and it de-stresses you.**
Exercise: The Definition
But what is exercise? Is it the kind of class where they need defibrillators on hand because it’s so hard? As the exercise expert in the Telegraph pointed out, don’t bother paying for that class. Just do 500 burpees in a row as fast as you can.
For all the people who post that irritating, “go hard, or go home” meme, nine out of ten of their readers will think, “I’m off home”. Not, “Yeah! I’m gonna exercise till I puke”. Who wants to do that and more importantly, who can keep doing that?
Think in terms of activity instead. Instead of “go hard, or go home”, try “walk about a bit and then go home”.
Low levels of activity performed regularly throughout the day count. What sounds more do-able to you? Getting changed into your gym gear, walking or driving to said gym and doing an insanity class you pay for featuring lots of burpees and lunge jumps, or going for a 15 minutes’ walk two or three times a day?
Body Weight Exercises
Other activity ideas include housework, standing instead of sitting in front of a computer, walking up and down your stairs frequently and doing short bouts of body weight exercises while watching TV.
There is a place for hard exercise. If you’re an athlete, you need hard exercise so you can compete. The rest of us? Not so much. The occasional high-intensity interval exercise session can be practised once or twice a week (the 4-minute Tabatha method, for example) if you like. Insanity classes are not HIIT. They are just hard, exhausting, stressful exercise sessions that people use to punish themselves.
As you might have guessed from the angle of this post, I love walking. I do about two hours a day, split between walks to the shop/library/train station and then all the steps I perform in general. I used an online tracker for a while to count it up and then stopped once I knew what I needed to complete 10,000 steps a day. (And it’s not as much as two hours, more like one hour 15 minutes.) I am fitter, happier and healthier than I’ve ever been in my exercising life.
If you can increase the amount of time you are walking, stretching and lifting so that you minimise the amount of time you are sitting, you provide your body with the benefits it needs. For further reading and information, I recommend you check out the work of Katy Bowman, who promotes movement and activity over exercise, and suggests various ways you can add activity to your daily life.
*I can’t find the original article unfortunately.
**So long as you don’t do insanity classes!
4 thoughts on “Exercise Versus Activity: Walk About A Bit and Then Go Home”
I actually know people who were told that walking, gardening, housework etc. “didn’t count” only going to a gym.
Personally I’ve always been a great walker BUT I worked out decades ago that I would crash both physically and mentally after 2 – 3 hours and would have to take sandwiches, chocolate, Kendal Mint Cake, coffee with sugar etc. and carb up every couple of hours. Same for gardening, housework and all other forms of “not-exercise”.
Since low carbing I routinely go 5 – 8 hours and often 10 hours or more without eating or even feeling hungry, often walking miles (kilometres) carrying a load of photographic gear or my birdwatching telescope. Ketones are excellent fuel for this. The last chocolate bar in my camera bag went stale as I never needed to eat it.
I’m with Mark Sissons on this: “move slowly a lot, run very fast occasionally, lift heavy things”
The only fly in the ointment has been since my thyroid exploded. Curiously hypERthyroid caused my LDL to drop exactly as much as a statin, but it was only then that my leg arteries blocked up and I was reduced to hobbling. Getting the thyroid back under control and walking through the pain, as a vascular surgeon recommended to revascularise myself, got me back to walking five miles or more, albeit slower than I used to. Well I’m older than I used to be! Oh well, ten years of health I was never supposed to have is better than nothing.
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Thanks for reading and commenting Chris. Pity those people received the message that gardening, housework et all doesn’t count, as gyms can be off-putting. I’m with Mark too. Move slowly a lot is the best thing you can do. And it’s free, you get to see things and it gets you from A to B. Hope you are pain-free now.
Oh man, thyroids are SO ANNOYING! After being stable for a year or more it suddenly shut down, TSH from 0.001 to 12 at which point I felt like a corpse. Stopped the carbimazole and went back to 0.001 with equally ridiculous T4 and T3 and was reduced to hobbling again. Had a few weeks of normal and got back to walking 2 – 3 miles, last test showed TSH now 38. Surprised I’m still alive. Now on half the dose and still walking but slower. Someone else can do the garden! Know anyone who wants some exercise?
Annoying indeed. Get well soon.