I had an email asking the following:
"What actually consitutes exercise as far as you are concerned? I feel the amount of movement I do must be sufficient, only thing I do not really do is stretch. I think a lot of my age group need to know does hoovering, weeding, ironing constitute exercise"
The writer of the email is 64, healthy and does a lot of gardening.
So, does she do enough?
Well the short answer is no. Thanks to inventions such as hoovers, modern irons, dishwashers and washing machines housework isn't the heavy work that it used to be (the tedium hasn't changed unfortunately). Whilst weeding is better for you than sitting down in front of the TV, it isn't enough by itself.
The current recommendation is to do 150 minutes a week moderate intensity activity which you could break down into 30 minutes on 5 days of the week. That 30 minutes can be broken down into smaller 10 minute segments and this would still be beneficial.
The Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) report , "At Least five a week", published in April 2004 calculated the prevalence of activity and inactivity amongst older adults.
|Gender & Age||30+ minutes of moderate intensity 5+ times a week||Less than 30 minutes moderate activity per week|
So what constitutes "moderate intensity activity"?
This is any activity that is vigorous enough to produce sweating, increase breathing and elevate the heart rate but during which you can still maintain a conversation. If you want a more measured calculation you need to aim to stay within a target heart rate zone that is 55 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate
So what should I be doing?
Well this will vary by person - for some a brisk walk will be enough to elevate the heart rate (as a rule for walking, if you can't have a conversation you are going to fast, if you can sing a song you are going to slow). Other ways of raising your heart rate would be swimming or cycling. If you don't feel like leaving the house then you could use your stairs, set your time for 10 minutes and walk up and down them or just use the bottom step to do step-ups. You could always add a couple of cans of beans and do bicep curls at the same time.
How to do a step up with bicep curl
- Stand facing the step with cans held in hands, palms facing forwards.
- Keeping the left foot on the floor, step your right foot up onto the step making sure as much of the foot is on the step as possible.
- Keeping the right foot on the step, bring your left foot up next to it. As you step up curl your arms up so your hands meet your shoulders. Make sure you keep your elbows and upper arms by your side.
- Step back down, leading again with the right leg and bringing your left foot down to join it on the floor. At the same time lower your hands back to your sides.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".