**The Importance of Regular Exercise: How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?**
For adults 18-64 years old, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a certain amount of physical activity each week. According to the CDC, adults in this age range should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Additionally, two days of muscle-strengthening exercises are recommended. Let’s dive deeper into these recommendations and explore the benefits of regular exercise.
**Tailored Recommendations for Different Age Groups and Conditions**
The CDC provides further tailored recommendations based on age and health conditions:
1. Adults ages 65 and older: It is recommended for older adults to incorporate activities that improve balance, such as standing on one foot, into their routine.
2. Adults with chronic health conditions and disabilities: This group of adults should aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity and include two days of muscle-strengthening exercises.
3. Pregnant and postpartum women: It is recommended for pregnant and postpartum women to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, but without incorporating muscle-strengthening or balance exercises.
These recommendations are based on solid, evidence-based research, as stated by Drew Contreras, a physical therapist and vice president of clinical integration and innovation at the American Physical Therapy Association.
**The Positive Effects of Physical Activity**
Engaging in regular physical activity can have various positive effects on your health, according to the CDC. These effects include:
– Reducing the chances of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome
– Improving the body’s ability to handle illness
– Lowering the risk of certain types of cancers
– Strengthening bones and muscles
– Increasing the likelihood of living longer
**Moderate-Intensity vs. Vigorous-Intensity Activity**
Understanding the difference between moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity is important when planning your exercise routine. Moderate-intensity activity involves working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. You should be able to talk, but not sing, while engaging in this level of exercise. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include water aerobics, biking on level ground or with few hills, playing doubles tennis, and pushing a lawn mower.
On the other hand, vigorous-intensity activity requires breathing hard and fast, pushing yourself to the point where your heart rate significantly increases. You won’t be able to say more than a few words without needing to breathe. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or running, swimming laps, biking fast or on hills, playing singles tennis, and playing basketball.
The CDC emphasizes that you can achieve the recommended amount of physical activity by combining moderate and vigorous activities. Muscle-strengthening exercises should target major muscle groups, such as the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.
**The Benefits of Walking**
Many people wonder if walking counts as a valid form of exercise. According to Drew Contreras, walking at a pace where you’re a little out of breath but not yet running can be classified as moderate-level exercise. So, if you’re using walking to meet your weekly exercise goal, you’re not wasting your time.
Cedric Bryant, president and chief science officer of the nonprofit American Council on Exercise, adds that walking is often an individual’s entry point into developing a regular exercise routine. It’s accessible to everyone, doesn’t require special instructions, and doesn’t involve expensive equipment. For those who want to increase the intensity of their walking, Bryant recommends trying “speed play” by walking more briskly for short intervals, such as from one stop sign to the next. Starting with a leisurely pace for 5-10 minutes and then repeating the brisk intervals can be beneficial for many individuals.
**Something is Better Than Nothing**
Both Drew Contreras and Cedric Bryant encourage individuals who are new to exercise to not be intimidated by the recommended number of minutes per week. Even if you’re currently sedentary, engaging in less physical activity than the recommended amount can still provide significant benefits. Bryant suggests that for those who are starting from a low fitness level, beginning with just five to ten minutes of daily exercise can lead to positive results. As the saying goes, “some exercise is better than none, but more is better than some.”
In conclusion, regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining good health. The CDC recommends a certain amount of physical activity based on age, health conditions, and pregnancy/postpartum status. Engaging in moderate- or vigorous-intensity activities, including muscle-strengthening exercises, can provide various health benefits. Walking is also a valuable form of exercise, especially for beginners. Remember, even a small amount of exercise is beneficial, so start moving and reap the rewards of an active lifestyle.