Get fit: Adults should have set amount of daily physical activity

WASHINGTON — Exercise is good for overall health, but most people still don’t get enough physical activity.

Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club blog™ checked out the federal government’s 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend adults get 150 minutes of exercise weekly.

It works out to about 20 minutes a day seven days a week, or 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. And that’s for moderate intensive activity, such as walking or tennis. If the exercise consists of a hard workout with vigorous activity, such as running or swimming laps or both, it’s 1 hour and 15 minutes a week. That applies to older adults past age 65, as well.

But even short bouts of activity for 10 minutes can help with keeping fit. But for a weight-loss plan, the body needs about 60 to 90 minutes of activity per day.

The American Heart Association said that to control blood pressure or lower blood cholesterol, adults should engage in moderate to vigorous activity for 40 minutes at least three to four times per week.

And strength training is crucial. Muscle strength training should be done at least two or more days per week — a little more if you want to lower cholesterol. The requirements are a little different for children, who need at least one hour per day of physical activity. And play is an important part of physical activity for kids.

Squires points out that aerobic exercise has other benefits besides being good for the heart. There’s growing evidence that activity is good for brain function. It can help stave off Type 2 diabetes. Some recent studies have found that martial arts are particularly good for helping middle-aged and older people with cognition. Even one bout of activity can make a difference in cognition for older adults. Being active can increase the blood flow, too.

Some of Squires’ tips for staying active:

  • Keep a pair of walking or running shoes in the car or at the desk at work.
  • Keep an elastic resistance band handy or put it into a suitcase when traveling.
  • Walk to work or get off the bus or the Metro a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Ride a bike to work — or use one of the bike share programs.
  • Use one of the many apps that can help track activity and motivate, including Runkeeper and Mapmyroute.
  • Workout to benefit a charity. Charity Miles is an app that has already earned $1.7 million for charities. There are 30 different organizations that can benefit from workouts including Stand Up To Cancer, the ASPCA and the American Diabetes Association. FitFluential app is another that lets you workout and raise money for charity.

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