RX: Exercise

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Kristen Heckendorf, Physical Therapist

We know that there are countless benefits of exercise, but just how much exercise do we need?

Aerobic activity

Currently, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (such as jogging) per week. A few long sessions or multiple short sessions (at least 10 minutes) can achieve this goal. Remember, our bodies are made to move, and any amount of activity is better than none at all.

Start exercise gradually and slowly increase the progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity as you are able. This reduces your risk of injury and increases the likelihood of sticking to a program.

Muscle strengthening activities

Adults should train each major muscle group two to three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment. For people who are just starting to do strength training or for older adults, start with light intensity.

For resistance training or weight lifting, 8 to 12 repetitions improves strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improves strength in middle-age and older adults, and 15-20 repetitions improves muscular endurance. Take a day off between strength training sessions to allow the muscles to rest and recover.

Flexibility 

To improve range of motion, adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week. Flexibility exercises are most effective when the muscles are warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.

  • Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness.
  • Repeat each stretch so that the total time a stretch is held is equivalent to your age in seconds.

Neuromotor exercise

Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called functional fitness training) is recommended two to three days per week for 20-30 minutes a session. Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), stability exercises and multifaceted activities (tai chi and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.

As Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic Arizona says, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Don’t fall into the habit. Our bodies are made to move.

*The statistics are from the American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Guidelines.