Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires regular exercise. However, determining the optimal amount of exercise can be confusing. According to general guidelines, it is recommended to engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with two strength-training sessions. However, the ideal exercise regimen varies depending on age and personal goals.
Table of Contents
What makes exercise an essential daily routine?
Frequent exercise is vital for a variety of reasons. Regular physical activity can help build strength, improve cardiovascular health, and prevent chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and dementia. Additionally, exercise has been shown to improve mental health and overall well-being, including reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Exercising regularly can also help boost energy levels, sleep quality, and overall physical and mental performance. Overall, frequent exercising can improve your overall quality of life.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that an ideal workout routine should include a balance of cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Cardiovascular exercises, such as running on a treadmill, or a hill, cycling or swimming, not only help with weight loss but also protects against Alzheimer’s disease and improve mood. Strength training exercises, such as weight lifting or bodyweight exercises, help to build muscle and increase metabolism and endurance. Incorporating the right balance of both types of exercise can lead to significant health benefits, suggest experts. Also use gym equipments for more benefits.
What to consider for your cardiovascular health and weight loss:
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week to achieve optimal heart health. A moderate amount of exercise is equivalent to 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. If time is a constraint, the ACSM suggests that 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise, three days a week, can also provide the same heart-healthy benefits.
How to measure the intensity of your workout?
Measuring the intensity of your workout can be done by calculating your maximum heart rate. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
The American Heart Association (AHA) defines moderate-intensity physical activity as an activity that raises your heart rate to 50-70% of your maximum rate, while vigorous physical activity is an activity that elevates your heart rate to 70-85% of your maximum rate.
For example, a 30-year-old’s maximum heart rate is 190 beats per minute (220 – 30). Moderate exercise for that person would mean a heart rate between 95 (190 x 0.5) and 133 (190 x 0.7) beats per minute. Vigorous exercise for that person would mean a heart rate between 133 (190 x 0.7) and 161.5 (190 x 0.85) beats per minute.
As you age, your max heart rate will decrease. A 20-year-old’s target heart rate range would be higher (100-170 beats per minute) than a 50-year-old’s (85-145 beats per minute). This means that less intense exercise can still significantly impact you as you age.
Guidelines on strength training:
In addition to cardiovascular exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends doing strength-building exercises twice a week. As we age, strength training becomes increasingly important for maintaining bone health. Experts note that as we age, we lose muscle mass and that walking alone, while good for cardiovascular health, does not provide enough strength training. Strength training exercises such as weightlifting and jogging are impact activities that improve bone health and decrease the risk of fractures.
When it comes to targeting specific muscle groups, experts advise focusing on one muscle group at a time per session. However, it is important to note that this is not a strict rule, and one should do what one feels comfortable with. Even activities like gardening, which works on all muscle groups, can still be considered exercise.
How much exercise should I do?
The good news, getting the recommended amount of exercise per week doesn’t have to mean spending all your time in the gym. There are various ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life. Experts emphasise that working out is about moving your body; many activities can help raise your heart rate and build strength. Activities like gardening, dancing, cleaning, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and shovelling snow can all be considered exercise. Even everyday tasks such as doing laundry, which involves lifting heavy weights, can be considered exercise.
Strength training can also be easily incorporated into daily life. Doctors suggest using resistance bands, cans of food, or anything that can be gripped to increase resistance, such as lifting a chair or even a child. Incorporating your child into your activities can also be a great way to bond while increasing strength.
Minor changes to daily activities can also count as exercise. Experts suggest parking farther away at the grocery store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing balance exercises while washing dishes. These activities may not be labelled as exercise but are still beneficial for overall health.
Generally, any activity that raises your heart rate and feels like exercise can be considered exercise. Experts also add that if you think you’re exerting yourself, you’re probably doing something good for your health.
How to make the most out of your workout?
If you have a busy week and can only manage to do a shorter workout, experts suggest increasing the intensity of your exercise. Studies have shown that short, high-intensity workouts can be more beneficial than longer, moderate-intensity workouts. For example, jogging for 7-10 minutes three times a day can be more beneficial than walking for 30 minutes.
Researchers also emphasise the importance of positive thinking when it comes to achieving fitness goals. Instead of using negative words like “losing,” use positive language like “improving” or “enhancing” when it comes to your health and fitness. This positive mindset can help you stay motivated and achieve your goals.
So, how often should one work out?
The recommended frequency of exercise can vary depending on the type of exercise and your personal fitness goals. Generally, however, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends:
- A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or a combination of both.
- Two or more days of muscle-strengthening activity per week that works all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
- It is also important to note that physical activity should be spread throughout the week, and rest days should be included in your schedule. Also, it’s essential to listen to your body, so if you feel tired or sore after your workout, it’s better to rest and recover before your next workout.
It’s also essential to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of metabolic problems, and this risk increases with the number of hours spent sitting. Even if you meet the recommended daily physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can negatively impact your health and lifespan. Studies have also found that people who have lost weight are more likely to maintain the weight loss by reducing their sitting time during the day.
Feel free to cut corners if you lack time. Even short bursts of activity can provide benefits. If you cannot fit in a single 30-minute walk during the day, try several 5-minute walks instead. The key is to make physical activity a regular part of your lifestyle; any activity is better than none.