To maintain health and reduce your risk of health problems otherwise known as physical exercise, physical activity or health related fitness, health professionals and researchers recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days regular exercise.
Physical Activity Guidelines
- Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
- Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
- Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
- Do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
Benefits of Regular Exercise
If you are regularly physically active, you may:
- reduce your risk of a heart attack
- manage your weight better
- have a lower blood cholesterol level
- lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- have lower blood pressure
- have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower risk of developing osteoporosis
- lower your risk of falls
- recover better from periods of hospitalization or bed rest
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, current guidelines suggest that to stay healthy, adults between 19 and 64 should try to be active daily and follow these recommendations:
Cardiorespiratory exercise, often abbreviated to ‘cardio’, is any exercise that increases the heartbeat and breathing rate.
Such exercises include walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing and team sports such as football, hockey, basketball etc.
You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
These recommendations can be achieved through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five times a week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three times a week) or a combination of both types.
One continuous session combined with multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) is also acceptable.
For those starting out, gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended. You are more likely to stay on track and avoid injury if you start gently.
Even if you can’t reach these minimum targets you can still benefit from some activity.
Resistance exercise is concerned with working the bodies muscle groups and building strength.
It is recommended that adults train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
Very light or light intensity resistance training is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults new to exercise
- Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
- For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, while 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
It is recommended that adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.
Moderate vs Vigorous Intensity
There are a number of different ways to classify the intensity of any exercise, some based on heart rate, some on perceived exertion and some on how the exercise affects your metabolic rate.
Moderate-intensity activity should raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and make you feel warm enough to start to sweat.
Vigorous intensity exercise will make you breathe hard, increase your heart rate significantly and make you hot enough to sweat profusely.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests that moderate-intensity activity allows you to talk but not to sing, whereas more vigorous activity results in an inability to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
Examples of moderate intensity exercise include:
- Brisk walking (100 steps/minute)
- Swimming or aqua aerobics
- Gentle cycling (5-9mph)
- Badminton or doubles tennis
Examples of vigorous intensity exercise include:
- Power walking at 5mph or more, or walking uphill briskly
- Cycling faster than 10mph
- Martial arts
- Competitive sports (football, basketball, rugby etc.)
- Skipping/jump rope
Overall though, any activity that gets you moving, gets your heart rate up and gives you enough pleasure to do it regularly and often is good for you in almost every way.
Have fun, be healthy and feel good!
Ways to increase Physical Activity
Increases in daily activity can come from small changes made throughout your day, such as walking or cycling instead of using the car, getting off a tram, train or bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, or walking the children to school.
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