I know how hard it can be for many to even begin, let alone sustain a regular exercise program. If you are one of the many who somehow resist exercise, hate it, can’t seem to get around to it, whatever, go here and here for suggestions that may be new to you. Hopefully, there may be something there to help you get started. If not, there may be deeper exploration we could do together to help you get going. Having a regular exercise practice will yield dividends for the rest of your life!
I compiled this article by editing from a couple articles on the The American Academy of Sports Medicine (ASCM) site.
Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.
Guidelines for adults over age 65
(or adults 50-64 with chronic conditions, such as arthritis)
Both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity is critical for healthy aging. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise means working hard at about a level-six intensity on a scale of 10. You should still be able to carry on a conversation during exercise.
Older adults or adults with chronic conditions should develop an activity plan with a health professional to manage risks and take therapeutic needs into account. This will maximize the benefits of physical activity and ensure your safety. ACSM’s Exercise is MedicineTM program focuses on working with your physician or health care professional to develop a successful activity plan.
Guidelines for healthy adults under age 65
Basic recommendations from ACSM and AHA (based on review of over 400 studies):
The basic recommendations – categorized by cardiorespiratory exercise, resistance exercise, flexibility exercise and neuromotor exercise – are as follows:
- Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
- Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
- One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
- Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
- People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.
- Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
- Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting 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, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
- Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.
- Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
- Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
- Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
- Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
- Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.
- Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.
- Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai ji and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
- 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.
In addition to outlining basic recommendations and their scientific reasoning, the position stand also clarifies these new points:
- Pedometers, step-counting devices used to measure physical activity, are not an accurate measure of exercise quality and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity.
- Though exercise protects against heart disease, it is still possible for active adults to develop heart problems. All adults must be able to recognize the warning signs of heart disease, and all health care providers should ask patients about these symptoms.
- Sedentary behavior – sitting for long periods of time – is distinct from physical activity and has been shown to be a health risk in itself. Meeting the guidelines for physical activity does not make up for a sedentary lifestyle.
“It is no longer enough to consider whether an individual engages in adequate amounts of weekly exercise,” said Garber, who is an associate professor of movement sciences at the Teachers College of Columbia University. “We also need to determine how much time a person spends in sedentary pursuits, like watching television or working on a computer. Health-and-fitness professionals must be concerned with these activities as well.”
The position stand’s purpose is to offer health-and-fitness professionals scientific, evidence-based recommendations that help them customize exercise prescriptions for healthy adults. The position stand is published in the July 2011 issue ofMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official journal of ACSM.