Health Hub

by Robin Gaudette

If you have ever been sick or injured (who hasn’t?), you know if you get up and move around, take a shower and put on cloths, you feel better almost instantly.

The same goes for physical activity and fitness — some exercise is better than sitting still. After a 20-month review of scientific research done since the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines were published, the Department of Health and Human Services released their findings in the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report.

The report confirms we are still predominately an inactive society, citing that inactivity contributes to $117 billion in annual healthcare costs and causes 10% of premature mortality. The study associates sedentary lifestyle with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease mortality and cancers of the lung, colon and endometrium.

The key messages for activity from their report are as follows.

1. Muscle strengthening exercises — for legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms on two-to-three non consecutive days of the week.

2. Aerobic exercise — 150-300 minutes weekly at moderate-to-vigorous intensity.

3. Balance training — three times a week for fall prevention.

4. Children should have an hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily.

5. Adults 65 and older should perform 150-300 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity exercise depending on fitness status.

6. Relaxation, mindfulness and spiritual reflection and stretching are encouraged.

The report has also reached conclusions that are important for us to internalize as motivation to get moving. Exercise improves brain health, especially executive functions; managing day-to-day plan, starting new tasks, handling behaviors and controlling emotions. Exercise improved depression management and reduces the risk of clinical depression. Moderate-to-vigorous exercise after giving birth lessens the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. Exercise improves deep sleep, leading to an overall better quality of sleep.

The recent research concludes that any bout of physical activity leads to immediate health benefits — improved blood pressure, sleep quality and insulin sensitivity. While high-intensity exercise reaps more improvements in cardiorespiratory health, it is recommended that meeting the guidelines for frequency and duration should be met before increasing intensity.

The panel concluded that fitness trackers and counting steps do make a difference by drawing more attention to moving, but make no recommendation for step count.

Spreading exercise out over the week versus getting everything required in one-to-two days is more beneficial. Experts recommend spreading exercise out over three or more days a week.

For the first time, the report is addressing exercise for children, citing children as young as 3-5 benefit from consistent activity. Exercise is a must as we grow older. This report emphasizes the importance of participating in a wide variety of health and fitness activities to improve quality of life. Multicomponent exercise combines aerobic, muscular strength and balance training and stretching in one bout.

Dual-task training programs combine cognitive activities with physical movement. The report also stresses the need for progressive resistance exercises for this age group. Preventing declines in muscular strength and endurance are important for a comfortable, independent lifestyle.

A wonderful place to add all the above benefits of activity to your life is the pool. From babies, to teens, to adults and seniors the aquatic environment can meet most of your needs and it is FUN! Adults can experience amazing results cross-training in the pool.

In this forgiving environment, you are moving a substance that is 800 times the density of air. Imagine the muscular strength and endurance you experience while having fun. Seniors or those with limited mobility can achieve all of their activity baselines in without the fear of falling.

Who doesn’t want better physical abilities and quality of life? Exercise is the way to achieve this. All it takes is getting your feet wet!

— Robin Gaudette is the aquatics wellness coordinator at the Redmond Area Park and Recreation District. Contact her at robin.gaudette@raprd.org .

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