It is well documented that regular exercise produces longer, better, and healthier lives, reduces anxiety and depression, increases our energy, and boosts our self-esteem. People who are fit miss less work, and have an increased level of productivity. So, in order for people to experience the health benefits listed above, just how much and how often should they exercise?
First, it needs to be understood that all physical activity is beneficial, not just that which is experienced at the gym or as a weekend warrior. In other words, vigorous activities like cleaning the house or mowing the lawn are as good as playing racquet ball or running. While cleaning the house may not be as much fun, knowing that it does the body good might just make it easier to stick with until it’s finished.
Adults will experience most of the desired health benefits when engaging in a consistent schedule of 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking or raking the leaves on the lawn in the fall. It has also been found that dividing workouts into several 10-minute sessions is just as effective as one long one.
Of interest lately has been the discovery of the benefits of HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. This means that you go “pedal to the metal” for shorter bursts of exercise with timed rests in between. It puts the heart into an anaerobic state, which makes it work harder, and gets quicker results. For example, using various HIIT modalities can convert running or jogging for a total of 75 minutes a week into a regimen that nets the same benefits as walking at a moderate pace for 150 minutes.
If you are breaking a light sweat while exercising and can still talk, your level is considered moderate. If you are working up a good lather and can only say a few words at a time without pausing, your exercise level is considered vigorous.
There is another test that functions as an indicator of moderate exercise, and it is known as the sing-talk test. You cannot sing at a moderate exercise level, because more muscles are involved in singing than talking but you should be able to continue to talk. Therefore, the intensity is considerate moderate if you are working so hard you cannot sing while moving, but not so hard that you cannot speak.
Children need more exercise, as well as a higher level of intensity when exercising than grown ups: 1 hour of physical activity each day, largely aerobic will do it. Kids also need to include games and activities that will strengthen their bones and muscles. A good exercise schedule for kids would be at least 3 days per week of aerobic activity like bike riding or swimming; 3 days of muscle-strengthening activity like sit ups and push ups; and 3 days of bone-strengthening higher impact activities like running or skipping rope.
Most active kids are able to meet these minimum exercise requirements naturally, and with ease. Popular sports for youth such as soccer or basketball will help to provide the majority of the level of activity needed by children to strengthen the heart muscles and fortify developing bones.
For more information about out moderate or vigorous physical activities, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530, or visit Janet’s Fitness Facebook page.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.