Physical Activity Recommendations
Regular physical activity is probably the most important part of a healthy lifestyle. It will help you control body weight by burning calories; it can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. The U. S. Department of Health and Human services makes the following recommendations concerning physical activity:
- Adults should strive to be physically active for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week (about 30 min. per day, 5 days per week) at a moderate-to-vigorous level,
- Or, get at least 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
- Episodes of vigorous aerobic activity should be performed for a minimum of 10 minutes at a time, spread throughout the week.
- Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have even greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight. 60 - 90 minutes per day may be needed to prevent or reverse weight gain.
- Adults should include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all muscle groups at least 2 times per week.
- Older adults, aged 65 and older, should follow the guidelines for adults. If this is not possible due to a chronic or medical condition, then they should strive to be as physically active as their condition, and physician, allows.
- Older adults should avoid inactivity.
- Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance.
- Children and adolescents (ages 6-17) should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day, or most every day.
- Activities should be at the moderate- or vigorous-intensity level.
- They should include muscle or bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days per week.
- They should NOT put an emphasis on team sports, but rather on developing healthy lifestyle activities and habits.
Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
If you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you'll gain close to 1 pound per month. That's about 10 pounds in a year. The bottom line is that to lose weight, you must reduce calories and increase physical activity.
Don't panic! It is not that hard. In fact, being physically active may be as simple as walking around the block a couple of times. A study from the University of Colorado suggests that walking slowly may be the best exercise for people who are considered obese.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of death in the United States and will help to improve your health in the following ways:
- Reduces the risk if dying from heart disease or stroke
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes
- Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure
- Helps to reduce high blood pressure in those who already have it
- Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer
- Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression
- Helps control weight
- Helps build and maintain healthy bone, muscles and joints
- Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling
- Promotes mental well-being
To avoid injury and reduce soreness, start slowly. Gradually build up to your goal while giving your body time to adjust.
Furthermore, getting the recommended amount of physical activity does not mean spending money on a costly membership at the gym, or expensive equipment for your home. The following pages will help you find an exercise plan that works for you.
Find out more about:
- Exercise and Diabetes
- Exercise and Arthritis
- Exercise During Pregnancy
- Starting a Walking Program
- Pilates and Yoga
- Using an Exercise Ball
- Strength Training for Beginners
Learn more about the physical activity guidelines for Americans at www.health.gov/paguidelines