Types of Activities There are three types of activities you need to do to keep your body healthy:
- Endurance Activities
- Flexibility Activities
- Strength Activities
Endurance Activities (4-7 days/week) These activities help your heart, lungs, and circulatory system stay healthy and give you more energy. Endurance activities can help protect against diabetes and reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and colon cancer. Endurance activities range from walking and household chores to organized exercise programs and recreational sports. Some activities you can choose from include:
- Golfing (without the electric cart)
- Yard and garden work
- Propelling a wheelchair
- In-line skating
- Ice skating
- Cross-country skiing
- Continuous swimming
- Badminton etc.
Begin with light activities and progress to moderate and vigorous activities later as appropriate. This will prevent or minimize muscle soreness and will decrease the risk of injury. With moderate and vigorous activities your heart rate and breathing rate will increase. Try to work at a level that still allows you to talk (without gasping). Think comfort – comfortable footwear and clothing. Wear CSA-approved safety gear whenever your activity of choice warrants it..like a bicycle helmet for cycling, elbow, wrist, and knee protectors along with a helmet for in-line skating.
Flexibility Activities (4-7 days/week) Flexibility activities help you to move easily, keeping your muscles relaxed and your joints mobile. Regular flexibility activities can help you to live better so that your quality of life and independence are maintained as you get older. Proper posture depends on muscles being strong and flexible. Many common aches and pains (stiff neck, sore upper back, pain in the lower back, sore shoulders) can be due to a lack of flexibility. Flexibility activities include:
- Gentle reaching
- Stretching all of your muscle groups.
Some activities that may help you improve your flexibility include:
- Gardening and yard work
- Stretching exercises
- Tai Chi
Different areas of your body may be more flexible than others. Each joint may have a different ability for range of motion. It is important to know that stretching one area will not improve flexibility in another. A complete program should include all major body joints and muscles. Stretching safely means that you:
- Stretch slowly and smoothly without bouncing or jerking
- Use gentle continuous motion or stretch and hold (10-30 seconds)
- Begin with five minutes of light activity (like walking) before you stretch your muscles or do your stretching after your muscles have warmed up from endurance or strength activities
- Breathe naturally -don’t hold your breath
- Avoid pain – aim for a relaxed, stretched feeling
- Stretch the major muscle groups -hamstrings, hip flexors, gastrocnemius, pectoralis
Strength Activities (2-4 days/week) Strength activities help your muscles and bones stay strong, improve your posture, and help prevent diseases like osteoporosis. Strength activities are those that make you work your muscles against a resistance, like when you push or pull hard to open a heavy door or move a piece of heavy furniture. Exercising the muscles in your arms, trunk, and legs will ensure good overall strength. Aim for a good balance – upper body and lower body, right and left sides, and front and back of the body. Some ideas to help you increase your strength include:
- Heavy yard work (cutting and piling wood)
- Raking and carrying leaves
- Lifting and carrying groceries, infants or toddlers
- Climbing stairs
- Weight/strength training routines
- Exercises like abdominal curl ups and push ups.
Safe strength training:
- Begin with a warm-up and stretching
- Learn proper technique – consult an FNB Certified Personal Fitness Trainer
- Use light weights – progress as your strength improves
- Begin with high repetitions – 1 set of 10-15 reps then progress to 2-4 sets
- Breathe regularly – don’t hold your breath
- Rest for a least one day before strength training the same muscles
Remember to ask for help from a qualified fitness professional! It is important to do a variety of activities from each group to get the most health benefits. Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living at www.paguide.com offers you a rainbow of activities to choose from.
In order to stay or become healthy, you need to choose activities from each of the three activity groups. Each area provides different benefits.