How much physical activity should I be getting?
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the guidelines are as follows:
Children and Adolescents
Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily:
- Aerobic: Most of the 60 minutes or more per day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous- intensity physical activity on at least 3 days a week.
- Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days a week.
- Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days a week.
- Aerobic: For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Strengthening: Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
The key guidelines for adults also apply to older adults. In addition, the following key guidelines are just for older adults:
- Balance: As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle- strengthening activities.
Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness. Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely. When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
What is considered Moderate-intensity aerobic activity?
Is it moderate or vigorous? Use the “talk test” to find out.
When you’re being active, just try talking:
• If you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily, it’s moderate- intensity activity
• If you can only say a few words before you have to take a breath, it’s vigorous- intensity activity
Benefits to Physical Activity:
Physical activity impacts so many areas of our health and well-being, including: brain health, weight management, reducing disease, strengthening your bones and muscles, and improving your ability to do everyday activities. Here's list from CDC's website:
Lower risk of all-cause mortality
Lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
Lower risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke)
Lower risk of hypertensionLower risk of type 2 diabetes
Lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
Lower risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
Reduced risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
Improved quality of life
Reduced risk of depression
Slowed or reduced weight gain
Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
Prevention of weight regain following initial weight loss
Improved bone health
Improved physical function
I don’t like jogging or going to gym: Your physical activity doesn’t have to be a traditional type of workout or exercise like going to the gym or jogging. Think outside the box when it comes to moving your body. It could be walking to the grocery store, taking your dog to the park, gardening, house work, dancing, playing with kids, visiting local attractions with a friend, etc. Find something you like to do. You’re more likely to stick to it.
I'm not good at putting myself first:
If you're the type of person who is great at being there for friends and family, but put yourself last... you are probably an 'obliger' on Gretchen Rubin's Tendency test or a 'people pleaser' on Kris Carr's Archetype Quiz. There are several strategies to experiment with that may help you think of prioritizing your self-care:
When you take care of yourself, who around you also benefits? How does taking care of yourself affect your friendships and your ability be a present / engaging parent or partner?
Schedule your physical activity with a friend (AKA as an accountability partner). Have a set time / day / place.
Sign-up for a class to help hold you accountable.
If you are good at keeping appointments with others but not yourself: try scheduling physical activity appointments with yourself.
Plan ahead. Have your exercise clothes and shoes ready to go so you have less chance to find an excuse to not exercise.
Set specific Goals: I will walk 2 times a week on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm for 30 minutes. Journal about your experience.
Leave reminders (post-it notes) of your commitment to your health and why it is important to you. What your 'why' is.
Sign-up for an event and hire a coach to help map out your workouts
I don’t have an hour to ‘workout’
There's a mindset that if you don't have an hour to exercise, it's not worth it. It is more than OK if you don't have a long period of time to exercise. Don’t discount the value of 15 minutes. If that’s all you have, it’s way better than doing nothing at all. Do you have 15 min in the morning to stretch, 15 min at lunch time to walk and then another 15 min in the evening to jog? These 15 minutes add up. Do what you can. Movement or physical activity isn't all about the physical benefit. 15 minutes is plenty of time to get a significant emotional / mental benefit.
Get creative in fitting in periods of phyiscal activity. Can you walk or ride your bike to run an errand? How about catching up with a friend at a nearby park for a walk instead of a coffee shop. Keep your running / walking shoes / yoga mat in your car for when you have a few minutes between appointments. At your kids soccer or basketball games? Take time between games to fit something in for you. Traveling with work: find a gym ahead of time or stay at a hotel with a gym. You don't need much equipment to get in a great workout.
I don't want to buy a gym membership
Create a space in your home for working out. You don't need much space or equipment to workout. There are lots of free apps and online programs. One of my favorite is Fitness Blender. They have hundreds of free workout videos. You can filter the videos depending on what equipment you have available, intensity, time, body part, etc. Other programs to check out are the Nike Training Club, Blogilates and Yoga with Adriene.
I have a desk job: Sitting is becoming the new smoking. On Average Americans sit for 11 hours each day. That’s a lot of sitting! Schedule regular movement breaks:
Take a phone call standing up.
Get a standing desk
Have a small water cup that needs re-filling often.
Set a timer to serve as a reminder to stand-up and do a few simple stretches for a minute or two.
If you're ready to make a positive change to your physical activity habits but feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure how to move forward, consider Health Coaching. A certified Health Coach will help you create your own path that draws upon your strengths, identify what's important to you and what resources you have, and they will help you become accountable to yourself which leads to lasting long term change.