Treat exercise like eating and sleeping

THERE is overwhelming evidence that walking, jogging and hiking are good for you. Besides our diet, exercise has become an important contributory factor to our general health and wellbeing.

Yes, I am stating the obvious and the majority of Malaysians know the benefits of indulging in some form of exercise yet we are not exercising enough — and some even don't.

To gain meaningfully from exercise, it must be done regularly. For instance, jogging or walking briskly should be done at least three times a week for 30 minutes.

Of course, you will have to warm up for at least 5 minutes before you start. If not, you will be vulnerable to injuries and chances are, you will likely to stop running after a few minutes.

In aerobic exercises, the heart must keep beating continuously (at a higher rate than normal) for 15 minutes to have any positive impact. So, please warm-up before starting to exercise.

If you decide to take up walking, you must not only walk briskly (not at your usual pace as if you are in the shopping mall) but also raise and swing your arms for maximum impact.

It is embarrassing, especially when you get curious stares from everybody. But, I assure you that after doing it for some time, you will not be so concerned about that.

Swinging your arms is one sure effective way of deriving full benefits from your walks. Also, try to maintain the 'chest out and stomach in' posture which can do wonders to your body (especially spine) in a short time!

If you are a beginner, the first 2-3 months will be the most difficult period. You literally have to drag yourself out of the house to fulfil your weekly quota of exercise. Get a disciplined exercise partner, if you can.

My experience is that you will gradually feel good about yourself after the exercise.

The long-term effects are increased mental alertness, less breathing problems, more peace of mind, general improvement in self-discipline and most important of all, self-confidence.

The best part is that you also look good! Medical research also show that people who jog regularly have four times less chance of contracting coronary heart disease which is our biggest killer.

Exercise should be treated as a priority, like eating and sleeping. And, it's never too late to start on an exercise regime.

One final note of advice — start exercising while you are still mobile and able.

Kuala Lumpur

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