Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 16

Holistic Health

Common misconceptions about exercise

Staying active , even a few minutes at a time , can benefit almost any medical condition , but gains can be lost over time without persistence

Physical activity is one of the most powerful lifestyle choices we can make to improve our health , but in our work-obsessed societies many people find it hard to carve out time for this important activity .

On top of that , some mistaken notions around the pros and cons of exercise can further nudge people to skip it entirely .
For instance , people who have reached a good level of fitness may decide to quit working out because they believe the health gains already made will last forever . However , “ a significant reduction or drop out can cause a marked loss of initial benefits , such as cardiovascular fitness and endurance . Consistency is the key ,” Dr Julie Broderick , assistant professor in physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin , wrote in The Conversation .
Another misconception is that exercise should last for 10 minutes or longer to be beneficial — an unsubstantiated notion that was previously recommended but subsequently discarded by the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans . This change led to the idea that even daily activities like house cleaning can contribute to well-being .
“ Try to do exercise ‘ snacks ’, for example three to five short ( half a minute to two minutes ) bouts of activity spread across the day , such as climbing a few flights of stairs at a high enough intensity to make you a bit out of breath ,” wrote Dr Broderick .
This advice is also backed up by a New Zealand study that showed such exercise snacks can improve blood sugar control in people with insulin resistance when done before main meals . Insulin is a key hormone that regulates the amount of sugars in the blood while helping cells absorb them , but people who become resistant to it can see their blood sugars rise , putting them at risk of developing diabetes .
In addition , old age and chronic conditions are not necessarily a good reason to avoid exercise , as some assume .
For instance , regular physical activity has been shown to benefit cancer survivors and people with osteoarthritis , hypertension , dementia , multiple sclerosis , and spinal cord injury . In particular , breast , colorectal , and prostate cancer survivors who exercise face a lower risk of dying from their malignancy , while people with knee and hip osteoarthritis experience decreased pain and improved physical function , according to the 2018 guidelines .
“ Be as active as your condition allows , aiming for 150 minutes a week of moderate activity if possible . If you have complex health needs , seek medical clearance from a doctor before you start a new exercise regime and get exercise advice from a physiotherapist or other exercise professional ,” wrote Dr Broderick .
The guidelines also stress that it ’ s never too late to start exercising , with the elderly reaping many benefits as well . “ Physically active older adults are less likely to experience falls , and if they do fall , they are less likely to be seriously injured . Physical activity can also preserve physical function and mobility , which may help maintain independence longer and delay the onset of major disability ,” they say .
Similarly , healthy pregnant women should also stay active because moderate-intensity physical activity is not only safe but also helps reduce the risk of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes during pregnancy .
The guidelines also stress that it ’ s never too late to start exercising , with the elderly reaping many benefits as well .
14 MARCH 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com