The main message is: Give your life a boost and enjoy some exercise.
Whichever, I hope to persuade you that exercise is great for your body and mind and that you can find your own sort of exercise, which won't feel like a chore.
Here's some good news. Exercise can:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce cholesterol ( making stroke and heart attack less likely)
- Reduce your risk of diabetes- it slims your tummy and frees up the liver to process sugar better
- Make you happier- when you exercise, feel-good hormones called endorphins are released, lifting low mood and raising energy levels, making stressful lives easier to cope with. You may think that when you're feeling low and tired, exercise is the last thing you want, but if you do give it a go, the positive feedback you get should spur you on to make next time easier.
- Reduce the symptoms of, amongst other things, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and morning sickness in pregnancy.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day- and that can be any sort of exercise which stretches you physically i.e. raises your pulse rate. For most people, the best way to make exercise a daily habit is to build it into your routine- something which doesn't involve a special time or place or fancy equipment (although some people can't resist the lure of fancy equipment)- a walk (or even a run) in the lunch break, dog-walking (also good for meeting other people in your community- another really important part of a happy and stable life), not using lifts at work, getting off the bus a few stops early, cycling to the shops. Varying your routine and joining in with other people will stop you getting bored.Lots of ideas
There's a good leaflet about ways to get active in Bristol and South Gloucestershire for free, produced for the NHS, and available at doctor's surgeries, with lots of ideas in it (contact Simon Carpenter 900 2193)
Wonderful walks in Blaise Castle Estate - with changing seasons there's always something different to see. If you think you're unfit, try choosing a half hour walk, and speeding up so you go a little further each time. The Henbury Healthy Walking Group, who walk every Thursday, meeting in Crow Lane has been going since 2004 and organise local walks and some further afield. They are graded so you can see how strenuous they might be, but are generally easy walks. (contact Roy Pepworth 962 3768).
Through the Blaise Estate from Coombe Dingle to Henbury has to be one of the best ways to start a working day. You can hear woodpeckers, see owls, and if very lucky, kingfishers along the way. Cycling to work has been shown to boost concentration and productivity, with fewer days off work from illness. If you're nervous of cycling , Life Cycle UK (based in Bristol 929 0440) run practical courses to boost cycle skills-they'll even help you find safe cycle routes to your workplace, and show you how to maintain your bike.
Swimming Apparently, we were all once fish, and it's never too late to re-learn how to swim. Henbury Sports Centre is a good place to start. The staff are friendly, there are swimming lessons available, and special over 50's sessions. There is also free swimming for pregnant women (you'll need an Exemption Certificate from your midwife). And then there's the wonderful Henleaze Lake swimming club.
Is good for mind, body and spirit, and half an hour of digging can burn up 200 calories. If you don't have your own garden, you could become a volunteer at the University Botanical Garden in Stoke Bishop (contact Nicholas Wray 331 4912). Home-grown vegetables, eaten soon after picking, are bursting with vitamins - much better than something shipped from the other side of the world. Call the Bristol City Council Allotment Office on Tel. 922 3737 to find your local allotment site.
- Kick boxing
- 'Extend' Movement to Music classes for over 60's*
*People with limited mobility take place every Thursday in Brentry and provide free transport (contact Alison Williams 950 0133).
By Dr Marion Steiner, Willow Tree Surgery, Southmead and Henbury Family Practice