Discover the ideal exercise recommendations for optimal health, fitness, and longevity. Learn the benefits of moderate and vigorous-intensity activities and how walking counts too!

Get Moving: Exercise Recommendations for Optimum Health

Not all heroes wear capes, some tie shoelaces! Let’s talk about how much exercise adults actually need, and does walking even count? Well, the fitness world is sending out an SOS: Sweat on Shoes! According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults are recommended to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, coupled with two days of muscle strengthening. So if you’ve been pondering over whether your brisk walk in the park counts as exercise, the experts’ answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The Fitness Formula

Life is a juggling act, and if you can balance, you’re one step ahead! In addition to the basic exercise recommendations, adults aging 65 and above should include balance-improving activities, such as standing on one foot, in their routine. You must be thinking, what about those grappling with chronic health conditions or disabilities, or the super-women who are pregnant or have just given birth? The magic number remains 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, but muscle-strengthening or balance work should ideally be avoided by pregnant and postpartum women. See, exercise is like a box of chocolates, each bite tailored for your unique lifestyle!

The Science Behind Sweating it Out

Let’s hear it from the expert, Drew Contreras, a physical therapist and the vice president of clinical integration and innovation at the American Physical Therapy Association. The recommended quantum and intensity of exercise are strategically designed to benefit your heart while significantly reducing the risk of diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers. Exercise also empowers your body for better illness management and increases longevity. Can I get a ‘Hip, Hip, Hooray’ for exercise?!

Picking the Right Fitness Pace: Moderate Versus Vigorous

Curious to know what qualifies as moderate- and vigorous-intensity activities? Here’s a simple way to tell the difference. If you are able to talk but not belt out a tune during your exercise, it is likely a moderate-intensity activity. This could include water aerobics, riding a bike on a level ground, playing doubles tennis, or peacefully pushing a lawn mower. On the other hand, vigorous-intensity activity will have you panting and your heart rate soaring! Examples include jogging or running, swimming laps, riding a bike fast or on hills, playing singles tennis, or shooting hoops in a game of basketball. So whether you are more of a calm cruiser or a speed demon, there’s an intensity made for you!

One Step at a Time: Does Walking Count?

Believe it or not, walking indeed counts towards achieving your weekly exercise goal. If you engage in a lively walk that leaves you slightly breathless and makes conversing a bit challenging, that can be classified as moderate-level exercise. Cedric Bryant, president and chief science officer of the nonprofit American Council on Exercise, asserts that walking can act as a stepping stone towards developing a more rigorous exercise routine. It’s time to crack the fitness code: stand-tall-and-walk-far!

Sweat the Small Stuff: Some Fitness is Better than Nothing

What if your current exercise regime is more couch-cuddling than calorie-churning? No sweat—literally! Contreras and Bryant agree that people with minimal activity can also reap significant benefits with smaller doses of exercise. Therefore, don’t be intimidated by gargantuan numbers. Remember, some exercise is better than none – because more sweat means more sparkle!

Key Points to Remember:

  • Adults aged 18-64 need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, along with two days of muscle strengthening.
  • For those aged 65 and older, add balance-improving routines to the regimen.
  • People with chronic health conditions and disabilities, as well as pregnant and postpartum women, should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Physical activity provides numerous health benefits including reducing the risk of several diseases, strengthening bones and muscles, and enhancing longevity.
  • Testing your vocal cords could be a clue to the intensity of activity – if you can talk, you’re at moderate; if you can’t say more than a few words, you’re at vigorous.
  • Even meager activity levels can yield remarkable benefits.

Source Article: https://fortune.com/well/2023/08/12/how-much-exercise-do-i-need-each-week-does-walking-count/

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