Recommended Physical Activity for Health and Weight Loss
The importance of exercise in any weight loss program has been discussed for more than 30 years. The National Institutes of Health(1) 2008 Guidelines recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise a week for fitness and weight loss as the minimum. The guidelines warn that any physical activity is better than no physical activity. They note that 2 minutes of mild-moderate activity is the same as 1 minute of high intensity exercise. These guidelines are for children, teens, younger and older adults and even older adults. Here are the guidelines for adults:
- Inactive Adults: Start at 60 minutes a week, divided into 3-4 days, and gradually increase intensity and duration.
- Most Adults: For those with some extra activity, aim for 150 minutes a week or a combination of moderate and high intensity physical activity.
- Best benefits for your health: Try for 300 minutes of moderate exercise a week, again divided into several sessions a week. Do muscle strengthening exercise 2 days a week – moderate to vigorous.
Definitions of Light, Moderate, and Vigorous Physical Activity
Light Activity: Daily activities that do not require much effect, daily household chores(less cleaning)
Moderate Activity: On a scale of 0 to 10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6 and produces noticeable increases in breathing and heart rate. A person doing a moderate-intensity activity can talk but not sing.
Vigorous Intensity Activities: Vigorous physical activity makes your heart, lungs, and muscles work hard. On a scale of 0 to 10, vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8. A person doing vigorous-intensity activity can’t say more than a few words without stopping for a breath.
Examples of Aerobic Activities
Below are examples of aerobic activities. Depending on your level of fitness, they can be light, moderate, or vigorous in intensity:
- Pushing a grocery cart around a store
- Gardening, such as digging or hoeing that causes your heart rate to go up
- Walking, hiking, jogging, running
- Water aerobics or swimming laps
- Bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading and jumping rope
- Ballroom dancing and aerobic dancing
- Tennis, soccer, hockey, and basketball
Extreme, over the top exercise programs are not sustainable. They can cause injury (especially if you are out of shape) and are difficult to integrate into your daily routine. Whatever the activity, the secrets are safety, frequency, and consistency.