What Does It Take to Get Fit?

How much and what types of exercises do you need to do to reach an acceptable minimal level of fitness? Apparently, things have changed since 1995, when we were all supposed to do 20-60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three to five day a week. According to updated physical activity guidelines released jointly by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) in August 2007, all healthy adults ages 18 to 65 years should now engage in moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three days each week.

In addition, they state that adults will benefit from performing activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for at least two days each week. You should do these planned activities in addition to routine, light-intensity activities of daily living, such as self care, casual walking or grocery shopping, or any physical activities that last less than 10 minutes like walking to the parking lot or taking out the trash.

The ACSM and AHA also released separate, updated recommendations for adults over 65 or anyone between 50 and 64 years old with chronic conditions or physical functional limitations (e.g. arthritis) that affect their ability to move or their physical fitness. Older adults should meet or exceed 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week, but more humble goals may be necessary for anyone with physical impairments like arthritic joints. They also recognize that just maintaining functionality is an important benefit when you’re older and that maintaining some level of fitness makes it easier to do everyday activities, such as gardening, walking, or cleaning the house.

For older or limited individuals, strength training is especially important to prevent loss of muscle mass and bone strength, and working on your flexibility wil additionally help prevent limitations in such activities. Finally, working on maintaining your balance and staying on your feet becomes vital as you age.

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