Imagine that scientists have discovered a new treatment that increases your lifespan, improves your energy, helps control your weight, helps you sleep, and reduces your aches and pains. It helps prevent and manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It reduces your risk for several forms of cancer and dementia. It can also make you feel happier, less depressed and less anxious. It’s free, safe and needs no prescription. Would you be interested?
Great news, that treatment is available to you now and it’s called exercise! Most every major organ and system in the body is optimally enhanced by exercise. Here are the key guidelines for adults based on the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:
- Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
- For substantial health benefits, do at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
- Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
Starting an Exercise Program
Have a written plan and set aside time each day to exercise. Scheduling exercise into your day and making it a priority will increase the chance of being successful.
Choose cardiovascular activities you enjoy, such as swimming, biking or playing basketball with friends. Physical activity can be accumulated through a variety of activities. Walking is a great way to do moderate-intensity physical activity. 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.
Start with 10-15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily. Each week, add five minutes to your exercise routine until you reach 30 minutes of moderate-intensity for a minimum of five days per week. Alternatively, you may do 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days per week (an intensity level where it would be difficult to talk while doing).
Incorporate strength training into your routine. Do 8-10 strength-training exercises, 8-12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week. This can be accomplished by using dumbbells, resistance bands or your own body weight. If you are unsure how to perform the exercises correctly, seek the advice of an exercise professional.