Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It improves physical health, mental health, and reduces the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis later in life. Staying physically active can help pave the way towards a healthier, happier life!
How much physical activity do I need?
To promote optimal health and quality of life, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (2007) recommend that adults engage in both cardiovascular activity and strength-training activity. Their guidelines are as follows:
To maintain general health and cardiovascular fitness, it is recommended that adults accumulate the federal guideline minimum of 150 minutes (30 minutes on 5 days of the week) of moderate intensity activity OR 60 minutes (20 minutes on 3 days of the week) of vigorous intensity activity each week…OR a combination of the two.
You will meet these guidelines if you aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. The good news is, you do not have to do all of this at once! Breaking it up into bouts of 10 minutes or more at a time can help you fit activity into your daily routine and assure that your goals are being met.
What's the difference between moderate and vigorous activity?
Moderate physical activity is activity that causes a small increase in breathing and heart rate, such as brisk walking or biking. You should be able to carry on a conversation without much difficulty at this intensity level.
Vigorous physical activity is activity that causes a significant increase in your breathing and heart rate, such as running. At this intensity level, you should be able to talk…but will not be able to carry on a conversation without pausing to catch your breath.
To maintain bone strength and muscular fitness, it is recommended that adults do 8-10 strength training exercises, doing one set of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise, on at least 2 days of the week (using free weights, resistance machines, or calisthenics). It is important to include each major muscle group when performing strength-training exercises (arms, shoulders, back, chest, abdominals, buttocks, and legs).
Strength training does not just mean lifting weights! Other activities, such as Yoga, Pilates, plyometrics, or moving heavy objects, also fall into this category of activity.
Small changes, big results
Daily physical activity can be easy! Small changes to your current routine can make a big difference.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevators
- Walk or bike to work
- Walk across campus instead of taking the bus
- Do strength-training exercises while watching television
- All activity counts!
Tip for getting (and staying) active
- Set realistic and specific goals for yourself. Write down how you can accomplish them!
- Keep a journal or activity log to record your progress.
- Schedule time for physical activity.
- Make it a social affair – invite your friends & family to be active with you!
- Choose activities that you truly enjoy and that make your body feel good.
- Make changes gradually.
- Switch things up – consistently changing your physical activity routine keeps exercise fun and exciting!