We have long been told that exercise is good for us. Whether it’s getting out for a quick walk or running a marathon, exercise fuels feel good endorphins, promote physical health and can support our mental wellbeing. But how much is enough and how can we modify our activities to ensure we are reaping all the benefits on offer?
Exercise, just like everything in life, is suited to different individuals in different ways. Not only do we all have different likes and dislikes, but also on top of this we are all a combination of different ages, genders and genetics. However, no matter what your preference, general exercise guidelines recommend around 20 – 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain baseline health and fitness. For serious benefits, exercising at a moderate intensity anywhere between 150 minutes – 300 minutes a week can help to lower blood pressure, increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce risk of chronic disease and illness, manage weight and help improve sleep, energy levels and mood – just to name a few! So what does this weekly exercise plan need to look like? And how hard do we need to be working in order to see results or feel the benefits? Introducing the F.I.T.T. principles. Manipulating the frequency, intensity, type and time of our exercise regimes or activities can help keep us on track to ensure we get the most out of each workout. Have a check over the F.I.T.T. principles below to see how easy it is to incorporate an exercise plan into your day-to-day!
Frequency refers how often we exercise per week. This could be viewed either as how many days we train, or how many exercises or repetitions we do per workout. For general health and wellbeing, around five days of activity is recommended, but note that rest days are just as important as this gives our bodies and muscles time to repair and recover. If we want to challenge ourselves we can increase the number of exercise sessions we have per week – which could even mean different exercise types on the same day (i.e. going for a walk or doing some yoga in the morning, and then a gym session or bike ride later on in the afternoon). Read here about the benefits of going for a walk.
When referring to intensity, we are referring to whether the activity is being performed under low, moderate or high intensity – or in other words, how hard we are working. Anything that gets your heart rate elevated is going to kick-start those health and wellbeing benefits, so it then largely comes down to your preferences and goals. To break it down, an example of a low intensity activity could be a walk. To progress this to a moderate intensity activity you could move through into a jog, and then a run/sprint for higher intensity exercise.
Exercise type is individually important to ensure enjoyment and continued participation of exercise. The type of exercise you choose can be specific to your goals, or just for pure enjoyment. When working towards your goals, examples might include more fitness specific activities – such as lifting weights for strength training, or going for a run when training for a distance event. It is important to remember however, that recreation activities also fall into the exercise bracket – meaning that going out to do something you enjoy can also have a number of benefits. Examples of such activities may include fishing, hiking or even getting outside to do a bit of gardening.
The more time spent exercising the greater the potential benefits to be gained. An exercise session doesn’t need to be hours long however, and sometimes can be incorporated into your daily life in small increments. Parking a couple of blocks away further from your destination, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can be god ways to lift your heart rate without taking too much time out of your busy schedule. Alternatively, you can design your session to suit your lifestyle – if you don’t have a lot of spare time, try a quick 30-minute high intensity workout. Or if long and slow is more your style, make time in your day to prioritise your exercise or recreation activity.