No pain, no gain is the saying, but who defines what pain is? It turns out that you do. Recent research shows that the intensity of physical activity needed to reduce the risk of heart disease depends on individual fitness levels, and you are the person to determine what a hard workout really is.
The bad news in this is that the more fit you are the harder you need to work to get increased protection against heart disease. But let’s not dwell on negatives; there are two distinct positives in these recent findings. First, if you are fit, you already have built up protection against heart disease and second, the less fit you are, the less intense, on an absolute scale, your activity has to be gain health benefits.
It turns out it all comes down to how you feel. If you feel you are working hard – no matter your actual fitness level – you are likely accruing the benefits associated with moderate to vigorous physical activity. There is currently ample evidence to support the benefits of physical activity in the prevention of chronic diseases, including heart disease.
The findings can be helpful for older persons who believe themselves unable to be physically active. If they persist at their own rate, physical fitness will improve, and intensity will gradually be increased across time. The important point is that the health benefits are being achieved throughout the process.
Brisk walking, which might be perceived as ‘light’ exercise to a young person, may take almost all the energy an older, less fit person could muster. Relatively, this walk would provide the health benefits for the older person that running or jogging does for a younger person. So don’t feel like you cannot benefit from activity. Everyone, no matter the age or fitness, can find their level of participation to benefit their health and well-being.
Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately? Don’t wait to start.