How much physical activity do you need
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate activity every week, along with twice weekly strength training sessions, for healthy adults. That comes out to a thirty minute walk, five times per week. If you engage in more vigirous activity, only 1.25 accumulated hours are needed each week, or less than three 30 minute sessions.
The American College of Sports Medicine, which echos the recommendation of the American Heart Association recommends adults under 65 get moderate activity for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week, or vigorous activity for three 20 minute sessions, along with the resistance training.
You can see where this is going. While exercise fads come and go, the minimum recommendations for health have clearly emerged and been consistent for some time now. While more exercise may be better to a point (5 hours of moderate activity is better for you than 2.5 hours), there is a minimum amount of physical activity needed to achieve health and longevity benefits.
Making the recommendations work for you
Meeting the minimum recommendations requires only two circuits of strength training weekly, which could be performed inexpensively at the closest fitness club or gym to your home or workplace. A single set of 8-12 repetitions of 8-10 exercises might take only 20 minutes, but could be rounded out with some stationary cycling to keep the heart rate elevated for 30 minutes. Some may prefer three resistance training sessions per week. Adding in a 30 minute walk each night after dinner would make out the remainder of the program minimum.
Using a pedometer
Getting in the habit of clipping a pedometer to your belt every day has been proven to be a motivational tool for people who want to increase their level of physical activity. If you walk a lot during the day at school or work, or in the course of running errands, that activity can count towards your daily totals. Actually, only sessions of activity that last at least 10 minutes should count, but there is some evidence that all activity accumulates and has benefit.
10000 Steps Per Day
10000 Steps Per Day was started in the 1960’s in Japan. The number seems to represent the equivalent of 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per day, according to the Cooper Institute. To start using a pedometer to measure steps and meet your minimum physical activity needs, buy a simple pedometer, and start to wear it daily for a week. You can see where you are at for a baseline of physical activity. Next, try to add little bits of activity where ever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park further from the entrace to the grocery store. Try to build the habit of the evening “constitutional” walk, with a partner or spouse, the dog, or alone with your iPod. If it’s bad weather, hit the treadmill at the health club where you do your strength training.