Exercise For The Soul

For those of us whose first love isn’t the gym, we still need to find activities that will help us build bone strength.

Researchers have found that swimming and cycling are not very effective ways of building the bones that are most susceptible to fracture.

It seems that bones prefer stop and start type activities such as occur when lifting weights or playing tennis.

But it seems that regular walking can be helpful in reducing the risk of hip fractures in older people. In a study known as the Nurses Health Study, walking for at least four hours a week was found to reduce the risk of hip fractures by 40% when compared with walking less than that.

And walking for at least eight hours a week was found to be as effective as hormone replacement therapy for reducing the risks of hip fractures. Plus brisk walking was also found to reduce the risk of women having a stroke, getting diabetes or developing heart disease.

The key seems to be making sure that our bones are subjected to some kind of ‘bashing’ or stress, as can be done through hopping or skipping, walking upstairs quickly, or up a hill, or pedalling up a hill while standing up on the pedals.

In addition, exercises that you can do without going to the gym, like going up and down the stairs quickly, using a cordless digital jump rope, walking in a swimming pool or going dancing can reap very positive rewards.

Change your habits

After a rather social summer and too many nibbles at happy hour, I have been thinking about changing some habits with the colder weather coming!

Fewer daylight hours make it a bit harder to get out walking in the evenings and weekends sometimes get taken up with activities which leave the exercise regime sidelined.

I’ve been reflecting on ways to get into better habits, and here are a few tips which may help if you are thinking of making some positive changes to your eating and exercise routines.

1. Every little bit helps. Sometimes even thinking about changing habits can be overwhelming. Humans have a tendency to think in ” all or nothing” ways. In other words, I can either sit on the couch or else I can go for a 10km walk. Anything in between is not an option. But any positive change is a good thing. Better to sneak in an extra 10 minutes a day or cut out one biscuit at morning tea than to do nothing at all. In fact, if the change you want to make feels overwhelming, break your goal into bite-sized chunks and simply tackle one chunk at a time.

2. It takes time for form new habits. Some people say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but some experts say it takes much longer than that. I imagine it also depends on how long you had the old habit for! So particularly in the early days, be mindful of the fact that it may take a bit more conscious effort to do things differently.

3. A lapse is not a relapse. How often have your good intentions fallen by the wayside – maybe you have had a bad day and reached for the chocolate cake or chosen lying in bed instead of getting up for that early morning walk? What can happen next is that we throw in the towel and go back to our old ways, rather than just being kind to ourselves and recognising a temporary lapse for exactly that. Just a lapse. Not a relapse. Tomorrow is another day and there’s no reason not to simply pick up where you left off before the chocolate cake got the better of you!