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Exercise Guidelines and Tips



The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released updated physical activity guidelines in 2008.  Click here to see it in its entirety.

Please keep in mind that these are only the minimum recommendations for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.  Depending on your goals, you may need to increase volume, intensity or both.


Guidelines for healthy adults under age 65

Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week

or

Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week

and

Do eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

Moderate intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of daily physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute a day recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.


Tips for meeting the guidelines

With busy work schedules, family obligations, and packed weekends, it can often be difficult to get the recommended amount of physical activity. Try these tips for incorporating exercise into your life:


  • Do it in short bouts. Research shows that moderate-intensity physical activity can be accumulated throughout the day in 10-minute bouts, which can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes straight. This can be useful when trying to fit physical activity into a busy schedule.

  • Mix it up. Combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity can be used to meet the guidelines. For example, you can walk briskly for 30 minutes twice per week and jog at a higher intensity on two other days.

  • Set your schedule. Maybe it’s easier for you to walk during your lunch hour, or perhaps hitting the pavement right after dinner is best for you. The key is to set aside specific days and times for exercise, making it just as much a regular part of your schedule as everything else.

  • The gym isn’t a necessity. It doesn’t take an expensive gym membership to get the daily recommended amount of physical activity. A pair of athletic shoes and a little motivation are all you need to live a more active, healthier life.

  • Make it a family affair. Take your spouse, your children, or a friend with you during exercise to add some fun to your routine. This is also a good way to encourage your kids to be physically active and get them committed early to a lifetime of health.







Guidelines for adults age 65 and older (or adults 50-64 with chronic conditions, such as arthritis)

Do moderately intense aerobic exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week

or

Do vigorously intense aerobic exercise 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week

and

Do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, 10-15 repetitions of each exercise 2 to 3 times per week

and

If you are at risk of falling, perform balance exercises

and

Have a physical activity plan.


Both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity is critical for healthy aging. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise means working hard at about a level-six intensity on a scale of 10. You should still be able to carry on a conversation during exercise.

Older adults or adults with chronic conditions should develop an activity plan with a health professional to manage risks and take therapeutic needs into account. This will maximize the benefits of physical activity and ensure your safety. 


Key points to the guidelines for older adults

Although the guidelines for older adults and adults with chronic conditions are similar to those for younger adults, there are a few key differences and points to consider.


  • Start, and get help if you need it.  The general recommendation is that older adults should meet or exceed 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week; however, it is also recognized that goals below this threshold may be necessary for older adults who have physical impairments or functional limitations.

  • Functional health is an important benefit of physical activity for older adults. Physical activity contributes to the ease of doing everyday activities, such as gardening, walking or cleaning the house.

  • Strength training is extremely important. Strength training is important for all adults, but especially so for older adults, as it prevents loss of muscle mass and bone, and is beneficial for functional health.

  • If you can exceed the minimum recommendations, do it! The minimum recommendations are just that: the minimum needed to maintain health and see fitness benefits. If you can exceed the minimum, you can improve your personal fitness, improve management of an existing disease or condition, and reduce your risk for health conditions and mortality.

  • Flexibility is also important. Each day you perform aerobic or strength-training activities, take an extra 10 minutes to stretch the major muscle and tendon groups, with 10-30 seconds for each stretch. Repeat each stretch three to four times. Flexibility training will promote the ease of performing everyday activities.


     

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