Saturday, 20th April 2024

More exercises

A bit more about particular exercises this week. It does not matter which one you hit on. Just choose your exercise  to suit yourself.  “The best exercise is the one you’ll do everyday and something you like to do”. Actually that overstates the case – you don’t need to do it every day. Other considerations are “can it involve the whole family? is it a group activity? can it be easily modified?”

Exercise and sport

The term “Sport ” implies competition and can be either solitary or as part of a team. Solitary exercise can still be competitive – think walking, running, swimming, cycling etc. You can compete against yourself, other people or age-related standards. Exercise sessions can also be social occasions and involve others but don’t necessarily require like-minded exercisers to join you. Competitive sport does demand opposition, as in tennis, table tennis and golf, but just one will do. Team sports have the disadvantage of requiring more people which may not always be easy to achieve and usually involves a sports club. The added benefit of club sport is the social contacts both during and after the game.

The “solitary” exercises which I mention above can all have measurable endpoints, chiefly time related, which allow measurement of changes over time – usually speed related. Competing with oneself is a good motivator. Some exercises, however, have no measurable result and are purely designed to maintain and improve physical fitness. The best examples are gymnasium based  – exercise classes include circuit training, Pilates, spinning, aquarobics, calisthenics, zumba, boxercise etc.

An innovation in gym workouts has been the development of “exergames” which have been designed to add an element of fun at the same time as maintaining or improving physical fitness and health status. An Australian study of people aged 65+ found that subjects randomised to exergames had a 25% lower risk of falls over the following year compared to other interventions.

My personal preference is for competitive sport because of the motivation it provides, though the inevitable deterioration with increasing age is a bit of a downer!

Swimming (again)

A recent review calculated that if people swam regularly the incidence of new cases of Type 2 Diabetes could be cut by about 20,000 per annum, reducing the cost to the NHS by about £103 million annually. The Swim England Health commission website covers the subject of swimming and epilepsy, diabetes and dementia – worth a read. And the Royal College of General Practice has launched  a “Swimming as Medicine” initiative.

There is evidence that cold water swimming has its own peculiar benefits in reducing depression and inflammation and maybe lengthening life. Recently wild swimming (always cold in the UK) has been linked to increased longevity and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.


Dancing makes an ideal exercise for many. “It is a form of physical activity that integrates exercise, entertainment and sociality. Dance possesses innate advantages in fostering motivation for exercise”. A 2018 systematic review identified 28 relevant studies involving comparison of a variety of dance genres with other structured exercise interventions., Meta-analyses showed dance interventions significantly improved body composition, blood biomarkers, and musculoskeletal function. The effect of either intervention on cardiovascular function and self-perceived mobility was equivalent.


Gardening provides work for a variety of different muscle groups and also an opportunity for increasing overall physical fitness. Gardening may be an obligatory activity (it is there and has to be done) or a voluntary activity (for example an allotment) Don’t employ a gardener – do it yourself. Sadly the area of garden attached to newly built housing is diminishing by the day – the smaller the garden the more space there is for houses and the larger the profit for the developer. I suspect that there also a reducing inclination to want a large garden – just too much trouble/expense.

Gardening does provide a number of opportunities for exertion. Mowing (forget the tractor mower) is moderate exertion as is hoeing. Digging, especially if you live on clay soil, is at least moderate to vigorous activity. Raking may be a curse in autumn when the fallen leaves abound but it certainly provides an excellent work-out.

If you have a garden it is equivalent to owning your own outdoor gym and gives you the opportunity to grow healthy food for very little expense.

Next time

Next time I will discuss the effects of gym based exercise.

2 responses to “More exercises”

  1. John Faith says:

    Dear Dr Bethel, I had a TIA about five years ago when I was living in Scotland,. It mainly effected my memory,some of which I lost the previous 6 to 7 mobility was,not great either. Anyway I moved back home to Alton in December 2019. And early this year my doctor recommended I join the recently formed Alton Stroke Group. As a result of this it was also recommended I have a assement at Alton Rehab as it said that physical exercise would be very be nifical. I have now been coming for twice a week for the last three weeks, and already notice a difference in my stamina,which is one of the things I wanted to improve.
    So I just wanted to thank you for settling up Rehab.
    Yours greatfully
    John Faith ex Puckett also ex photographer ,my father Frank Puckett was a patient oh yours

    • Hugh Bethell says:

      Thank you very much John. I am delighted to hear that you have found the programme useful – long may it continue!
      I do remember your Dad – he was delightful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Find out more about the Cardiac Rehab centre

Back to the Top
Back to the top