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Exercise: For Health and Vitality
Exercise or regular activity goes hand in hand with a healthy diet in promoting physical health and fitness as well as mental well-being. Regardless of your age, you will enjoy the numerous health benefits of exercise if you can do it daily or as regularly as you can.

What to include into your fitness routine

You can combine different types of aerobic exercises and strength training into your fitness routine.1

  • Aerobic exercises are such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, playing badminton, and aerobic dancing.1,2 These activities involve using the large muscles of your arms, legs, and hips repeatedly.1
  • Strength training increases the strength and endurance of the muscles. Examples are push-ups, sit-ups, weight training, and working with resistance bands.1,2 Filled water bottles are good for arm workouts at home, too!
  • Stretching helps improve flexibility.1 Yoga and tai chi are some of the popular forms of flexibility exercises.2
Benefits of regular exercise and physical activity2,3
  • Maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity;
  • Maintain healthy bones, joints and muscles;
  • Reduce your risk of various chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer; and
  • Promote a sense of well-being, improving your mood, and lower your risk of anxiety and depression.

How much and how often should you exercise?1,2

As a start...
When your fitness improves...
or
Also include...

No time to exercise?

Being a woman with many roles to play in your life, you probably find it hard to find time to exercise or you simply lack the motivation, or even energy to do it!

Believe it or not, physical activity need not be strenuous every time for you to derive its health benefits. You can either do shorter bouts of strenuous activities (eg, jog for 15–20 minutes) or longer sessions of moderately intense activities (eg, brisk walk for 30 minutes).3

Say, if you can't set aside 30 minutes a day for brisk walking, you can brisk walk in a combination of three 10-minute sessions throughout the day,1 as long as you achieve a total duration of 30 minutes or more. This is equally effective as doing it continuously.

And, to keep you motivated, there are ways to make physical activity a fun part of your daily routine. Choose the activities that you enjoy, and vary them according to your preference and schedule.

You may go to a gym if you enjoy working out with a group of people, or you can work out at home by watching workout DVDs.

Jog in different parks or use different jogging paths. Go cycling this weekend and hiking the next. Play a game of badminton with your friends. The point is to get yourself up and moving!

Exercise for a fitter pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you'll still want to keep active on a daily basis if possible. If you're not previously active, you are now encouraged to be moderately active for up to 30 minutes daily. If you have been exercising all the while, you may continue your exercise routine at an appropriate level, or as advised by your doctor.2

Since you are now bearing the weight of a growing baby, muscle training is especially important for strengthening your back, stomach and pelvic floor muscles.2

You can ask your doctor to recommend the best form of exercise for you based on your pregnancy conditions.

Staying active at your senior years

For women who are over 50 years old, regular physical activity is even more important to help improve physical health and mental function. Walking remains the best form of exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime.4

To help keep your muscles strong and vital organs healthy, try some light-weight training and low-impact aerobics.4 If you have been doing ballroom dancing, there is no reason for you to stop unless advised by your doctor. You can always consult your doctor, so that he or she can evaluate your health and recommend the types of exercise or physical activity that is suitable for you.

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity (exercise) fact sheet. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/physical-activity.html . Accessed 19 February, 2016.
  2. Ministry of Health Malaysia. Malaysian Dietary Guidelines. Key Message 3: Be physically active everyday.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity and health - Women. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/pdf/women.pdf . Accessed 19 February, 2016.
  4. American Family Medical. Exercising after menopause. Available at: http://ocalafamilydoctor.com/american-family-medical-blog/exercising-after-menopause/ . Accessed 19 February, 2016.