Most people know it’s important to become physically fit, but aren’t sure how to achieve that goal. Research has shown that regular physical activity can help prevent dementia, heart attacks, strokes, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released evidence-based recommendations about the quality and quantity of exercise. ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.
Do your best to meet these exercise requirements from ACSM:
- 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 the least risk of injury.
- People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some physical 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 2 to 3 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.
- 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 two or three days per week and 20-30 minutes per session.
- Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai chi and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.