From “I’m no longer old enough to do gymnastics” to “I never have time to train”: what scientific research says, in short
Most doctors and scientific research agree that exercise is important for getting better, both physically and mentally. Taking a few hours of exercise during the week can be complicated and many find excuses, sometimes quite creative, for not doing so. Julie Broderick, professor of physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin, has put together a shortlist of misconceptions about exercise, which in one way or another are the basis for many people giving up a few hours of exercise.
1. “I used to be fit, there’s no need to keep exercising.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way: the benefits you get only stay that way if you maintain a constant training program. If you reduce physical activity or stop it altogether, you quickly lose the initial benefits such as those related to the cardiovascular system and more generally to endurance. The advice is to stay in exercise for the rest of your life, modulating physical activity according to your age and health, perhaps changing training and sports from time to time to find new stimuli and interests, without running the risk of getting bored and giving up.
2. “Being on your feet all day is not the same as doing real physical activity”.
Those who do a job that requires them to stand for a good part of the day are certainly more active than those who have a sedentary job, which forces them to stand for many hours in front of the desk. Being on your feet most of the day helps, but it is not enough. The advice is to combine at least 150 minutes of extra physical activity per week with exercises or sports that involve sweating a little.
3. “A workout should last at least 10 minutes, otherwise, it is useless”.
In recent years, numerous studies have questioned the need to train for a minimum of 10 minutes, pointing out that a few minutes at a time of physical activity scattered throughout the day can be equally beneficial. You can also benefit from simple everyday activities such as carrying shopping bags, doing garden work and choosing to walk instead of using public transport or the car. Short, intense activities conducted for a couple of minutes are also useful, such as a quick walk up the stairs or a single workout, such as bending your arms or legs.
4. “People with a chronic illness should avoid training”.
This is not so: various scientific researches have pointed out how moving and keeping fit can help to improve one’s condition, even in the case of tumors and cardiovascular problems. The activity must naturally be calibrated according to one’s condition and must not involve excessive effort. Before starting a new sport or very strenuous workouts, it is advisable to consult with your doctor so that you can get advice or be referred to a specialist, such as a physiotherapist.
5. “I am no longer of gymnastic age”.
It is an excuse that many people use, but research tells us that aging does not reduce the possibility of physical activity, at least until the age of about 95. Resistance and strength can also be increased by older people by following exercises that are suitable for them and do not involve excessive stress on the joints. Therefore, aerobic exercises are better suited to improve balance, especially from the age of 65 and up.
6. “Physical activity makes you lose weight”.
As with many health-related things, the answer is: it depends. Moving more involves an increase in the activity of your metabolism, and therefore makes our body consume more energy, but if you have an unbalanced diet exercise may not be enough to keep fit or lose weight. There has to be the right balance between how much you eat and how much you consume: if the first activity exceeds the second, there will be no exercises to lose weight. A person who wants to lose many kilograms or who needs to counteract the tendency to gain weight may need many more minutes of physical activity a week.
7. “I run once a week, but that’s not enough.”
Even just one run a week offers some benefit to our body, so there is no need to obsess about it. It is estimated that 50 minutes of running per week at an average speed of around 10 kilometers per hour can significantly reduce various health risks, which lead to premature death. Running should be done in the right posture and without overloading the joints: beginners should refer to an expert for advice and reduce the risk of injury.
8. “I’m pregnant, so it’s better to stay calm”.
Moderate physical activity is also recommended for pregnant women, as long as they are healthy and have not