Engaging in regular moderate to vigorous physical exercise will provide you with more energy, less stress, better weight control, and lower your risk for many of the most common diseases - heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Despite the well-publicized benefits of exercise, more than half of the U.S. population does not get sufficient physical exercise. Sedentary lifestyles trail only tobacco as the most important contributor to preventable deaths. While regular vigorous exercise confers the greatest rewards, the majority of health benefits are seen at moderate levels of exertion. Vigorous exertion may not be realistic or advisable for older individuals and those with certain health conditions. Take the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q ) to see if you are ready to begin an exercise program.
Starting an exercise program
Starting an exercise program can sound like a daunting task, but just remember that your main goal is to boost your health by meeting the basic physical activity recommendations: 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week, or vigorous-intensity activity at least three days per week, and strength training at least twice per week.
Choose activities you enjoy, such as swimming, biking, or playing basketball with friends to get your daily physical activity. If you need variety of activities to stay motivated, combine a few that appeal to you.
Physical activity can be accumulated through a variety of activities, not just running. Walking is a great way to do moderate-intensity physical activity.
What kind of exercise? A combination of endurance and resistance exercise is best for achieving the health and fitness goals. 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. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.
Recent exercise recommendations from the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine (2007) for healthy adults under age 65 include:
Moderately intense aerobic exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Vigorous intense aerobic exercise 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week
Eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.
Use the links below to learn more about the guidelines and to make physical activity a regular part of your life