An avid sportsman who believes in the healing power of exercise, Assoc. Prof. Dr Ahmad Taufik Jamil is Universiti Teknologi Mara’s public health consultant and exercise physician.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF EXERCISE?
Exercise or physical activity is body movement or muscle contraction that requires energy (in calorie).
Physical inactivity or low fitness is a strong determinant of chronic diseases.
There are a lot of health benefits in doing exercise.
It is often said that exercise is a polypill, which means it treats a lot of ailments.
The main disease that exercise can prevent is heart disease. There are many other health conditions prevented by exercise. The main ones include obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, depression and some cancers.
A person needs to do regular physical activity in order to reap the health benefits of exercise.
The recommendation is 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of high intensity exercise, or a combination of both.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO I NEED EVERY DAY TO MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTH?
There are three types of recommended exercise to do - aerobic exercise, resistance exercise and flexibility exercise.
Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing and hiking.
Usually this exercise involves major muscle groups in our body.
The recommendation for aerobic exercise is a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes a week of high intensity exercise, or a combination of both.
Resistance exercise is done to increase muscle strength and prevent the loss of muscle mass.
You can use dumbbells, barbells or strength machines to increase muscle strength. It is recommended to do strength exercise two to three times per week.
Choose an exercise for each muscle group.
Flexibility exercise is usually done before and after aerobic exercise. It is also called stretching. Do it each time you do aerobic exercise to improve joint flexibility.
Other exercises that you can do are those that improve muscle and joint coordination.
WHAT TYPES OF EXERCISES ARE RECOMMENDED TO MAINTAIN HEALTH?
Choose exercises that are easy and do not require a lot of technical skill nor much equipment.
The exercise you choose must be rhythmic and involve large muscle groups (lower and upper limbs).
A good example is brisk walking. Spread the exercise over a week. Do not accumulate the exercise only on weekends.
Start with a small duration over weeks or months and slowly increase duration and frequency according to your capability.
The minimum amount of time is 10 minutes per session.