Being active and exercising is very important for health. Dr Joe Kosterich talks about the benefits of being fit, the three main types of exercise, and simple ways to keep to your exercise program.

Now today we’re going to be talking about exercise and activity which is really important for your health.

Up until fairly recently in human history activity was not an option. If you wanted to go somewhere you had to walk, if you wanted your clothes cleaned you actually had to scrub them. If you wanted food, you either had to catch it or get it out of the garden or from the market. So a hundred years ago even our ancestors had to be a lot more active just to get through the day. Lots of tasks were very manual.

Today we have lots of labour saving devices. And that’s really good, we don’t want to go back and live in caves. But there is no such a thing as a free lunch, so all the activity that we’re not doing – even the simple things, like not getting up to change the TV channel or not getting out of our car to open the garage door – means we’re less active.

Our bodies were and are designed to move. So exercise and movement is really important for our health. It’s important for our bones, our muscles and even keeps the mind ticking over; it’s good for the heart and lungs…being active, fit and exercising has been shown to be a separate protective factor in preventing things like heart disease. So even if people are overweight, if they’re fit, that helps a huge amount.

There are three main types of exercise. There’s cardio exercise, which is things like running, walking, jogging, swimming, most ball sports are cardio, things which get you running around. There’s resistance or strength exercise, which involves weights, and there’s stretching type exercise.

Now, all three are important. People sometimes think: “Oh, I’ll keep myself fit and run but I don’t need to do any weights.” But weight or resistance type work is also important for muscle and bone strength. You don’t have to go to the gym and pump lots of iron – you can do that if you want to – but things like push-ups or chin-ups that use the body’s weight are simple resistance type exercises.

Stretching is important too, particularly for the back and neck but for other parts of the body as well because that stretches the muscle and keeps it more supple.

So in an exercise program you want to be incorporating all three types: your cardio exercise, resistance and stretching.

Now you need to do things that you enjoy. There’s no point deciding to go running if you hate running and you prefer cycling. If you like cycling get a bike. If you don’t like being on a bike but you love the water, start swimming. If you like going to the gym, go to the gym. If you hate gyms, then there’s no point signing up. So you need to do something that you enjoy because, guess what? If you enjoy it you’ll probably do it and you’ll stick to it. And the most important things in any exercise program is actually doing it and sticking to it.

It’s not difficult. You can start today. Park the car a bit further away at the supermarket, take the stairs at work instead of the lift. These are simple things that add a little bit more movement to your day. Get up to change the TV channel, better still, get up, switch it off and go do something else.

Keeping fit and being active is not that difficult, it’s really important as part of your DIY health plan.

More information on fitness and exercise