By Dr. Deborah Field

As a doctor, I often discuss with my patients some of the reasons why they don't exercise.

It's a topic that comes up a lot because physical activity is, without a doubt, one of the best things you can do to manage any health issues, and to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

If you're concerned about heart health, daily physical activity should be at the top of your list. It doesn't have to be a marathon or involve lycra.  Just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking or any activity that raises a light sweat and a makes you a little breathless has big health benefits.

Thirty minutes of daily activity will help to reduce ...
  • systolic and diastolic blood pressure

  • body weight

  • waist circumference

  • body fat %

  • insulin resistance and risk of diabetes

  • need to diet

and will improve ...

  • high density lipoprotein (HDL) - the good cholesterol

  • your sex life

Here are some of the most common questions or comments that I hear and my tips to tackle each one.

I have aches and pains and can't walk much, but I need to tone up because I know it's good for my heart

  • Consider water-based exercise such as aqua-aerobics. There's no sweat, no running shoes, no stress on the joints and water feels good. And deep water aqua-aerobics is really good for arthritis.

I want to get fit, but I want to do it sitting down

  • Consider armchair exercises starting with light weights.

I don't have time to exercise

  • Leave the car a few blocks from your usual car park, train or bus stop and walk 10 to 15 minutes instead.

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.

  • When walking, walk faster. Overtake people. Don't dawdle.

  • Get up 20 minutes earlier and walk in the cool of the morning.

I'm too tired to exercise

  • Often, lack of exercise causes fatigue and makes you feel too tired to do exercise.  So inactivity and tiredness are a vicious cycle. The very first time you push through the fatigue and go for a walk, you will feel instantly less tired.  This is my rock solid guarantee.

  • If you're sleeping badly, exercise will help.  When you're fitter, you need less sleep, your sleep leaves you feeling more refreshed and you're less likely to have insomnia.

  • Exercise releases endorphins into the body.  These are feel good chemicals, part of the morphine family.  They wake you up and give a feeling of well being that lasts at least five hours, way more than twenty minutes of sleep. Alternatively, end a busy day with the stress buster of an evening walk and enjoy a great night's sleep.

So really you don't need to invest in Lycra or be a gym junkie.  Just be active and get your heart going for 30 minutes each day!

Have a Pharmacist send your prescription to you.