Debunking myths: Any exercise counts for good health

  • Nation
  • Friday, 26 Jan 2018

Keeping fit: Tan, who teaches group indoor cycling in the Klang Valley, with her husband Tan Keng Teck, at a cycling workshop recently.

PETALING JAYA: Many people think that whatever little exercise they fit into their schedules should be enough for maintaining health.

But consistency in exercising is a must, and there are ways to achieve it, said group fitness instructor Cindy Tan, who teaches group indoor cycling here.

Do we really need to exercise? What about those who carry out laborious jobs such as construction work, carpentry and domestic work? What about those who do gardening as a hobby? Would that be enough?

Yes, we need to exercise because exercise promotes blood circulation and trains the heart muscle to be more efficient.

An activity that makes you breathe harder and makes you sweat a lot from the activity is considered an exercise.

Thus, construction work may be considered exercise, but not domestic housework and gardening.

If we need to exercise, how often should we exercise? Should we do it every day and for how long?

Exercise comprises cardio training, strength training and stretching.

It would be ideal to do three sessions of cardio training, two sessions of strength training and one session of stretching in a week.

However, as many are busy, exercising three times a week is considered sufficient.

How long one exercises depends on the type of exercise and the fitness level of the individual involved. But generally, 20-40 minutes per session is adequate.

Is it true that exercise counts only if you do it consistently for long periods of time?

If “long periods of time” means consistency in exercising, yes. If people exercise one day and rest 10 days, that would not result in much benefit.

If we want to achieve any results, we have to take consistent action. This is the same with exercise.

What are the exercises that you would recommend for people of various age groups and for how long? Or at least, since you teach group cycling, what are the recommendations for the various age groups?

The type of exercise recommended is not so much dependent on the age group but the fitness level of the individual.

There are those who are in their 40s but are fitter than 20-year-olds.

However, as the more mature age group tend to have joint problems, exercises that involve a lot of jumping (which have high impact on the knees) are not recommended.

As for my cycling classes, it is suitable for all age groups, as cycling is low impact and does not affect the joints.

As instructors, we always give options to the participants based on what they can do. Safety is always a priority.

Is there such thing as over- exercising? What are the ramifications?

Yes, you can overdo your workouts. Exercise will usually make you happy due to the increased endorphins produced, but overdoing it will have the opposite effect.

Other ramifications are insomnia, prolonged time of recovery, muscles stay sore longer, weakened immune system, fatigue and decreased performance when exercising.

Do you have any advice for those who do not exercise consistently?

The first question is why are they not able to exercise consistently. Is it due to work or time constraints or do they just feel too tired?

The key is consistency, and they can start with just doing five to 10 minutes of activity every day and work it round their schedule. Do this for 28 days and they will start to feel differently.

Those who do not exercise should climb up and down the stairs or park their cars further away so that they can walk to their destinations. This is better than not doing much activity, but it is not enough for cardio workouts.

Some instructors recommend 20 minutes of high intensity workout while others coach a one-hour workout. My class takes 45 minutes, and it involves slow and fast cycling.

Do you have any other observations, comments and advice?

The key to staying healthy and exercising is to find an activity that the individual enjoys.

If he or she enjoys the activity and has fun doing the exercise, he or she will tend to stick with it.

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