Are you sure you’re getting enough exercise?

The World Health Organization names physical inactivity as one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable disease mortality.  Those who are not sufficiently physically active run a risk of death some 20-30% higher than those who do enough exercise.  In Singapore, according to the 2018 National Health Survey, over 39% of Singaporeans between the ages of 18 and 69 were physically inactive and the situation in Hong Kong, while more positive, still had almost 17% of adults in the inactive category as reported in the 2018/19 Health Behaviour Survey.

COVID will almost certainly have made these numbers worse, with working from home being the new standard, repeated lockdowns and gym closures.

The guidelines recommend that adults aged between 18 and 64 should, in addition to aerobic exercise perform, “muscle strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits”.
What this suggests is that simply going to the gym and running on a treadmill is not enough.  We should all aim to do at least some resistance-type training, if only for the benefits to our health.  If you’re new to resistance training or have never lifted a weight before, you should hire an experienced coach or qualified Personal Trainer to help you learn to lift safely and within your own abilities (article – how to choose a good personal trainer).
The guidelines also state that we should limit the amount of time we spend being sedentary.  Any kind of activity (even a light stroll) is better than sitting still, so if you have a desk job you can consider getting up to stretch your legs for a few minutes each hour, or going for a walk during your lunch break.
If you have a long commute by train or car and a sedentary job, you should try to reduce the detrimental effects of being sedentary by introducing some high intensity exercise into your routine.  This could be a short HIIT circuit, or you could incorporate strength training into your day at a gym near to your office.  It certainly does not have to be an all or nothing approach; when it comes to physical activity something is better than nothing, and more activity is better than less.
It can be hard to keep track of how active we are, so we would recommend keeping an activity diary for a couple of weeks to see how close you are to the recommended levels of exercise.  A step counter can be a useful tool (do you get 10,000 steps per day and if not, can you aim for 8000 or 9000?), but you can also log whether you did cardio or strength training, how long the workout lasted and what level of intensity it was (were you panting or just breathing a little more heavily?)  Try to be mindful of the times of day when you sit or stand when you could be moving, for example do you need to sit still on a long phone call, or could you perhaps be walking somewhere quiet?

How much exercise should you be getting?

As a ballpark each week, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (something that gets you out of breath) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.  Add to this at least 2 days of weight training, and generally try not to be too sedentary for too long on any one occasion.  If this seems like a huge amount of exercise then you are probably one of the majority who is not getting enough.

If you’re interested in a Client Focused, Coach Led, Results Driven approach from some of the best trainers in Asia, contact ATP Personal training to arrange an initial consultation – click the link below to go to our enquiry page.