According to the findings of the “Physical Fitness Test for the Community” , most Hong Kong people, regardless of age, lack sufficient physical activity to maintain good health. Physical activity is greatly beneficial to health. The higher the level of physical activity, the higher the level of physical fitness. On the contrary, inadequate physical activity will lead to poorer physical fitness with the growth of age. Physical activity can lower the risk of suffering from a series of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, some types of cancer (e.g. colorectal cancer) and depression.
To lead a health life, we should build physical activities into our daily life and keep a healthy lifestyle!
We can seize everyday opportunities to do more physical activities, e.g. walking, stair climbing, doing housework, or find some time to do exercise by getting up earlier in the morning or making use of lunchtime or the time before dinner. All these activities help improve fitness, enhance work efficiency and even enrich our life.
Despite our busy life, we should make exercise a habit. There is a wide range of exercise and you can choose the type of exercise that you find interesting and motivating. Exercise can be classified into three main categories according to their health benefits:
|Health benefits :||-||improving your blood circulation and cardiopulmonary function|
|-||to expend energy and keep a healthy body weight|
|-||reducing the risk of chronic diseases and some types of cancer|
|Types of exercise :||-||swimming, hiking, QualiWalk, cycling, jogging, stair climbing, aerobic dance etc.|
|Points to note :||-||choose activities according to your ability and interest|
|-||exercise for at least 5 times per week, 30 - 60 minutes each time with moderate-intensity|
|-||beginners can start with bolus each lasting for at least 10 minutes, and then gradually increase intensity and duration according to ability|
|Health benefits :||-||helping you to maintain the correct body posture and improve your body shape|
|-||reducing chronic pain in muscles and joints|
|-||increasing the self-protection ability of your body|
|-||enhancing your sports performance|
|-||reducing the risk of injuries|
|Types of exercise :||
|multi-gym exercise, dumbbell lifting, etc.|
|Points to note :||-||increase resistance / weight gradually accordingly to ability|
|-||perform at appropriate pace; exhale when exerting force and inhale when relaxing|
|-||train 2 - 3 muscle groups weekly, low to moderate resistance, 2 - 4 sets each time (1 set = 10 - 15 repetitions; have sufficient rest in between sets)|
|-||aim at building up endurance follow by power|
|Health benefits :||-||stretching and exercising different parts of your body to improve the mobility of joints and relax your muscles|
|-||serving the purposes of warming up and cooling down, before and after exercise as it helps relax the mind and muscles and improving joints ability|
|-||enhancing physical ability and sports performance|
|-||reducing the risk of sport injuries|
|Types of exercise :||
|static stretching exercises for different parts of the body|
|Points to note :||-||avoid jerky movements or ballistic stretching|
|-||maintain smooth breathing|
|-||do stretching exercise 2 to 3 days a week. Beginner can start with mainly static stretching exercises.|
|-||repeat each set of movement 2 to 4 times, and hold the stretching posture for 10 to 30 seconds|
|-||keep the stretching muscles relaxed while the part of the body being stretched feels a slight pull|
Studies show that it is not necessary for exercises to be strenuous as exercises of moderate-intensity (which cause mild sweating and slightly higher breathing and heart rates) are enough to bring benefits to our health.
The amount of energy expended during exercise varies with the intensity and duration of the exercises as well as personal factors.
The formula for energy expenditure is as follows:
Body Weight(kg) x Activity Duration(hour) x Metabolic Equivalent (MET)
Example: the energy expended by a 60 kg person for doing speed walking for 30 minutes is
60kg x 0.5 hour x 4.3METs = 129 kcal
The amount of energy expended in performing the following activities for 30 minutes are as follows:
(The information given above is for reference only. The actual amount of energy expended is also determined by factors such as the intensity and duration of an activity, and the physical fitness, skill level, gender, age and body weight of an individual. )
# Metabolic Equivalent is an indicator for the intensity of physical activities. Generally speaking, physical activities less than 3 METs are regarded as low-intensity; 3 to 6 METs as moderate-intensity; and higher than 6 METs as vigorous-intensity.
|Are your weight and height in appropriate proportion? To know the answer, calculate your BMI using the following equation:
For example : the BMI of a man 1.80 m in height and 70 kg in weight is:
70 ÷ (1.8 × 1.8) = 21.6 .
According to the table below, his BMI falls within the normal range.
(for Asian adults)
|Less than 18.5||Underweight|
|18.5 - 22.9||Normal|
|23 - 24.9||Overweight|
|25 - 29.9||Obese|
|30 or above||Severely obese|
Calculating BMI is one of the methods to find out whether an adult is underweight or overweight. However, measuring the level of subcutaneous fat is a more accurate method in the following situations:
To ensure safety and having an appropriate amount of exercise, the control of exercise intensity is of utmost importance. You should bear in mind that during exercise your breathing rate will increase when you feel a bit strenuous, and so will your pulse rate. These physiological reactions can be taken as the indicators of the intensity of exercise. To monitor and assess the right exercise intensity for yourself, please make reference to the "Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)" below.
RPE may be used to monitor and assess the level of exercise intensity. RPE between 5 to 7 is recommended for most people, subject to downward adjustment according to individual physical fitness.
Elderly (Aged 65 years or above) *:
Physical activities for the elderly include ordinary and recreational activities in their daily, family and community life, e.g. daily commuting (walking or cycling), performing official duties (for elderly still working), doing housework, and participating in games, sports competitions and planned exercises.
For all healthy elderly aged 65 or above without any contraindication to physical activity:
Adults (Aged 18 to 64 years) *:
Physical activities for adults of this age group include ordinary and recreational activities at office and in their daily, family and community life, e.g. daily commuting (walking or cycling), performing official duties (i.e. working), doing housework and participating in games, sports competitions and planned exercises.
Children and the Youth (Aged 5 to 17 years):
Physical activities for children and the youth include participating in games and sports competitions, leisure activities, physical education lessons and planned exercise at school and in their family and community life, as well as daily commuting (e.g. walking and cycling).
(Reference: Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010.)
*Remarks: Under the relevant guidelines of WHO, old age is defined as persons aged 65 and above. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, in consultation with the relevant local professional bodies, considers that the Guidelines on the Amount of Physical Activity for the Elderly set out above also apply to persons aged 60 to 64.
What are moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity physical activities?
“Moderate-intensity physical activities” are those which will slightly speed up breathing and heart rates, and cause mild sweating but not so intense as to cause fatigue, while “Vigorous-intensity physical activities” are those which will greatly speed up breathing and heart rates, and cause profuse sweating and fatigue.
More specifically, physical activities of 3 to 6 METs (e.g. walking and social dance) are of moderate-intensity, whereas those of higher than 6 METs (e.g. running and cycling) are of vigorous-intensity.
You should take heed of the following when doing exercise:
Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China