Most of us are aware that we should do regular exercise. However, due to modern lifestyles, many of us neglect this fundamental fact. Often a lack of time is blamed, but more often than not, this is merely an excuse and an easy way out. Partaking in regular physical exercise has been proven to reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, various cardiovascular diseases, and some forms of cancer. The benefits of regular exercise can be felt in both the short and long-term and require only 30 minutes of daily exertion.
Why are routines important?
Humans are naturally creatures of habit, and we do tend to adapt better to a regular routine. It is certainly applicable to exercise and helps you retain focus whilst also giving you the benefits. If you miss a day, it is always best to start again the next, but don’t be tempted to put it off “until Monday” as positive habits can be quickly broken. Decide on a realistic plan from the outset and stick to it. It should challenge you and not be too easy or too difficult, both of which can negatively impact your motivation.
The general benefits of exercise
As we touched upon at the beginning, regular exercise reduces your chances of getting some severe diseases and conditions. However, it also helps you maintain a healthy weight, develop a better physique, reduce your risk of falls and improve your recovery time from common illnesses. Exercise also helps to release mood-boosting hormones including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
How much exercise should you do?
Of course, how much exercise you do will be very much dependent on your goals. However, healthcare professionals recommend that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day to reduce your health risk, although something is better than nothing. If you class yourself as doing no daily exercise, we would suggest speaking to your doctor before commencing any form of physical activity. Assuming, exercise will pose no risk to your health, you should build up gradually to the desired levels.
Although guidelines vary from country to country a “little but often” approach is thought to be best for most people, you should aim to do between 150 and 300 minutes moderate exercise per week. However, if you prefer more vigorous exercise, your goal should be 75 to 150 minutes per day. Try to incorporate some form of strength-building activities into your routine at least twice a week.
How can I increase the amount of exercise that currently do?
Often a rather lame excuse for not doing exercise is that people don’t know how to increase what they are currently doing. A good way is to walk or cycle to work, although this may depend on where you live. Alternatively, you could get off the BTS or MRT a stop early and walk the remaining distance or walk with your children to school. Bangkok has some beautiful parks, and these are excellent places to escape from the exhaust fumes.
Can exercise reduce your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition resulting from a blood clot forming deep within the body, often in the legs. If the clot becomes free, it can travel to the lungs, which is known as a pulmonary embolism that is often fatal if not detected quickly. Exercise improves circulation and helps to relax the walls of blood vessels, which results in better blood flow. Blood that moves freely is less likely to become blocked, thus reducing your chances of developing a DVT.
How do people get DVT?
There are several reasons why people develop blood clots, but DVTs usually arise from poor circulation. Again, there can be a number of contributory factors, including thickening or narrowing of arteries due to age or poor general health.Exercise has been proven to improve circulation and cardiovascular health, significantly reducing your chances of developing DVT. However, even active people can get clots if they stay in one position for long periods such as on long-haul flights. Therefore, it is essential to move around periodically and do some light exercise to increase your heart rate and improve circulation.
Exercises for DVT
Maintaining a healthy exercise routine as we outlined above will help promote overall health and wellbeing and reduce your chances of developing DVT. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle in your job, such as work in an office or when you are on a long-haul flight, there are some light exercises that you can do during these times to reduce your risk. You should also avoid crossing your legs where possible as this too can have an impact on circulation. Exercises you can do while seated include:
- Leg extensions – keep your thigh on the seat, slowly raise one leg until it is parallel with the ground and lower again. Repeat with the other leg.
- Ankle pumps – keeping the heel on the ground, raise your toes toward your shin and lower. Repeat with the other foot.
- Seated march – move your legs as if walking but in a seated position for 2 minutes, increasing the speed where possible. Try to aim to complete the exercises once an hour.
Can I exercise if I have DVT?
It is possible and indeed often helpful to do some exercise if you have a DVT although you should always consult your doctor before doing this. Exercise will help to ease venous insufficiency, which is a disease that may restrict blood flow back to the heart. Aerobic activity is recommended, such as walking, swimming or dancing. Building the muscles, especially in the legs, will also help promote better blood supply, and this will reduce the chances of another clot forming or existing clots getting larger.
Most people with DVT take regular medication such as blood thinners and aspirin. Once again, you should consult your doctor about the effects of this medication on exercise.