I am a big fan of working smarter rather than harder, especially in our modern day environment when many of us are so busy and have so many things to do.
This can cause exercise to become a distant memory, or a luxury we just don't find the time to schedule in.
We all know the benefits of exercise and movement for optimal health and vitality, but what if we break it down even further and look at what types of exercise could be used to achieve specific goals.
There are many different types of exercise which elicit different responses in the body and ultimately target different goals and conditions more or less effectively than others.
Reduce cholesterol levels
Exercise can improve HDL levels, more so than reducing LDL levels.
Keys: Aim for duration over intensity and try to increase incidental activity, as even a one-off bout of exercise will positively affect cholesterol metabolism.
Try doing a five minute walk before work, a 10 minute walk at lunchtime and perhaps 1-2 stairs at work throughout the day to increase incidental movement.
An evening stroll along the beach or a walk with friends in the park are all great options when focusing on duration rather than intensity.
Reduce stomach fat
High Intensity exercise kept short has been shown to be more effective at reducing visceral/stomach fat than long endurance exercise.
Keys: Aim for a stationary bike sprint session lasting no more than 20 minutes. I like to use a ratio of eight seconds sprinting and 12 seconds recovery for my clients for optimal results.
Weight/resistance training is ideal to minimise risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis which is increased in this population.
Keys: Aim for 3-4, 40 min sessions per week of resistance work and avoid long cardio as this increases risk of both conditions.
Weight training does not mean you need to use heavy weights, nor will it build big, chunky muscles.
Classes such as Pilates or yoga are both great to start out with weight bearing by using your own body weight.
You could try some squats and press ups at home as a beginner, again using body weight as your resistance.
Improve body shape and tone
Fix the foundations first, so focus on bracing in the core and counteracting daily, doing regular movements.
Keys: Try to include in your day a portion of time allocated to counteracting movement patterns, such as hunched forward/seated positions.
Aim for 5 minutes daily, especially working on strengthening out your anterior/front muscle and shortening and tightening your posterior/back muscles.
Prevent diabetes and improve insulin
Weight training is best because during muscle contractions, a hormone is released that elevates fat burning and turns white fat into brown fat.
Higher levels of a hormone-called irisin also promote insulin sensitivity and improve glucose tolerance
Keys: Aim for 3-4, 40 min sessions per week of resistance work and avoid being sedentary as much as possible.
Lack of movement, even if just for a few hours, has the opposite effect, lowering your metabolism, glucose tolerance, and fat burning.