Physical Activity, Exercise, and Fitness
People who are fitter are healthier and live better lives. Many of the leading causes of death are lifestyle diseases that can be cured by simple exercise. For example, both heart disease, the number one killer last year, and diabetes are directly related to lack of exercise.
Quick Page Summary: Make sure you’re doing at least thirty (30) minutes of physical activity every day, such as walking or doing household chores. You also need to do moderate physical exercises, like biking, speed walking, running, or aerobic exercise, for about (30) minutes, three to five (3 – 5) times a week—sixty (60) if you want to lose weight. If you’re not used to getting that much exercise, start with small amounts, like walking or biking ten (10) minutes at a time, and gradually increase your endurance.
Frequent and regular physical exercise is an important component in the prevention of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. On the other hand, inactivity can also lead to loss of muscle, reduced functional ability, and a lack of energy.
Try to include the following types of exercise into your weekly routine:
- Daily physical activity – Thirty to sixty (30 – 60) minutes daily. Includes stretching, walking, stair climbing, dancing, housework, gardening, etc.
- Aerobic (cardio) exercise – Three to five (3 – 5) days a week at moderate to high intensity (see below) for at least thirty (30) minutes. Include brisk walking, running, jumping rope, swimming, biking, exercise machines, or any activity that elevates your heart rate significantly. Be sure to include exercises that promote flexibility, stability, and balance.
- Resistance / weight training – Two to three (2 – 3) nonconsecutive days per week. Includes approximately one to three (1 – 3) sets of eight to twelve (8 – 12) repetitions of free weights, machines, calisthenics, etc.
Examples of moderate physical exercises:
- Walking briskly (about 3 ½ miles per hour)
- Gardening/yard work
- Golf (walking and carrying clubs)
- Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour)
- Weight training (general light workout)
Examples of high-intensity (vigorous) physical exercise:
- Running/jogging (5 miles per hour)
- Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)
- Swimming (freestyle laps)
- Walking very fast (4 ½ miles per hour)
- Heavy yard work, such as chopping wood
- Weight lifting (vigorous effort)
- Basketball (competitive)
Whether you create your fitness or exercise plan, make aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and core strengthening for stability and balance a part of your overall exercise plan. These four fitness elements, when included into your routines, can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Note: Proper rest and recovery are important, especially with weight training; otherwise, the body exists in a permanently injured state and cannot improve or adapt adequately to the exercise. For this reason, it’s important to remember not to do a strenuous exercise two days in a row; instead, try to vary your routines. For example, try switching back and forth, every other day, between doing aerobic exercise on and weight lifting.
Tips for Getting Active
- Start slowly and gradually increase your activity: Focus on being active for at least thirty (30) minutes a day. Once you’re used to that, start trying to incorporate moderate exercises into your routine.
- Choose activities and exercises that you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle. Try a variety and do what’s fun.
- Maintain a flexible schedule—do what you can, when you can, and don’t feel guilty if you miss a day or two; consistent activity over months or years is most important.
- Balance your activity/exercise with healthy eating patterns.