The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity/exercise (brisk walking, swimming, volleyball, basketball, gardening, house chores) per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity/exercise (jogging, running, fast swimming, etc.) per week and 2 days or more per week of strength and balance exercises (resistant training, standing on one leg for some seconds, etc.)
Physical Activity: This is defined as bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles which results in energy expenditure. It includes activities of daily living such as occupational activity, recreational sports, household chores, and leisure. Everyone performs physical activity to sustain life.
Exercise: Exercise has been used interchangeably with physical activity but it is actually a subset of physical activity. It is defined as physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful with the main objective of improving and maintaining physical fitness.
Physical Fitness: This is a set of attributes people have or achieve. It is defined as the ability to carry out daily task with vigour and alertness without undue fatigue and ample energy to enjoy leisure time. Physical fitness components include health–related physical fitness (Cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, body composition, and flexibility) and skill–related physical fitness (Agility, Balance, Coordination, Speed, Power, and Reaction time).
Benefits of regular physical activity/exercise: The benefits include, among others, the following:
- Reduced risk of non-communicable diseases e.g. hypertension, diabetes mellitus, stroke, elevated blood fat, cancer, fall etc.
- Improved muscle strength and muscle endurance
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Boosting of immunity
- Promotion of self-esteem
- Improved mental health
- Improved bone density
- Improved sleep pattern
Guidelines for exercises: To sustain any exercise, note the following:
- Choose an activity you enjoy e.g. cycling, swimming.
- Warm up before exercise.
- Start slowly and gradually increase the time spent and the intensity.
- Cool down afterwards.
- Rest after the exercise.
Principle of exercise (FITT principle)
- Frequency: how often to exercise
- Intensity: how hard to exercise
- Time: how long to exercise
- Type: kind of exercise
Barriers to regular physical activity/exercise
- Work and family commitments
- Lack of motivation
- Time constraints
- Inconvenient training facilities
- Unsafe environment
- More priority to leisure activities e.g. television, talking on phone.
- Fatigue/physical exhaustion
A consult with a Clinician and also a Physiotherapist is recommended for prescription of exercise protocols before an individual begins to exercise.
Adewumi Adeagbo is a Physiotherapist, researcher and specialist in rehabilitation of neurological conditions in adults and children. He is an expert in identification and maximisation of individual functional ability and potential. He is a Lecturer at Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org