Commentary: Make exercising correctly, not exercising more, your new year resolution

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Weight loss is a long-term project. When starting an exercise regime to lose weight, improving fitness should be the primary goal. A higher fitness level can enable individuals to exercise at a greater intensity, expending more calories with less exertion.

For example, a person who does brisk walking for an hour may complete 5km, expending about 350 calories. However, a fitter person who can complete 10km in the same amount of time can expend double the amount of calories.

Start with most exercises at a comfortable intensity, limiting higher-intensity activities to once a week. Stress management is also important to improve weight loss and boost motivation.

BUILDING A BALANCED EXERCISE REGIME

Exercise is an important part of life, but to gain maximum benefits, it should be planned carefully to achieve specific ends.

Most people want aerobic fitness, so they go jogging, cycling, and swimming. Minimally, this should be for 10 minutes at moderate intensity to enhance cardiovascular fitness.

Then there are those who want to build muscle strength and endurance and for that, there’s weightlifting, stairs climbing, and HIIT body-weight exercises. These should consist of “heavy” resistance training with low repetitions and long rest intervals.

And to improve flexibility and mobility, do yoga and stretching exercises which are less effective for cardiovascular fitness. On the other hand, cardio activities may not increase muscular strength and flexibility as effectively as strength training and stretching exercises.

A good exercise regime should include strength training, flexibility exercises, and cardio activities. The key is to find what suits your purpose and keep an eye for overuse injuries. You need to build up intensity slowly and stretch and hydrate if you are hitting an hour.

*Pseudonyms were used in this commentary.

Ray Loh is Senior Physiologist at Sports Medicine & Surgery Clinic, Orthopaedic Surgery Department, Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

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