Exercise & Fitness

Exercising regularly, every day if possible, is the single most important thing you can do for your health. In the short term, exercise helps to control appetite, boost mood, and improve sleep. In the long term, it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, and many cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following:

For adults of all ages

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise like running (or an equivalent mix of both) every week.  It’s fine to break up exercise into smaller sessions as long as each one lasts at least 10 minutes.
  • Strength-training that works all major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—at least two days a week.  Strength training may involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in which your body weight furnishes the resistance.

For pregnant women

The guidelines for aerobic exercise are considered safe for most pregnant women. The CDC makes no recommendation for strength training. It’s a good idea to review your exercise plan with your doctor.

For children

At least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, most of which should be devoted to aerobic exercise. Children should do vigorous exercise and strength training, such as push-ups or gymnastics, on at least three days every week.

Exercise & Fitness Articles

Bounce back from injury

Physical therapists use a variety of recreational and exercise balls to help people cope with injury and pain. Playground balls, about the size of a soccer ball, are often used in knee rehabilitation exercises; they can be squeezed between the knees to build muscle strength. Large exercise balls are used to help strengthen the back and core muscles and to improve balance; one can sit on the ball or lie on top of it while doing an exercise. Small sports balls, such as a golf ball or a lacrosse ball, are used for deep tissue massage. (Locked) More »

Can a tracker or smartphone app help you move more?

A review of randomized controlled trials published online Dec. 21, 2020, by the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that people who use fitness trackers are a little more active each day than people who don’t use fitness trackers. More »

Choosing a home exercise machine

Home exercise machines such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and rowing machines can make it easier to get regular, heart-protecting, aerobic exercise. Certain machines may be more appropriate for different people, depending on their history of joint or muscle trouble or other health problems. For those with knee or hip arthritis or balance issues, a stationary bike may be best, while treadmills and elliptical machines are best for people concerned about preventing osteoporosis. More »

Resistance training by the numbers

Resistance training (also known as strength training) consists of doing upper- and lower-body exercises using free weights (like dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells), weight machines, resistance bands, or even body weight. It is regarded as one of the best ways to slow and even reverse age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia. The constant challenge with resistance training is finding that happy medium between doing too little and too much. New guidelines suggest people should focus on five categories: type of exercise, reps, weight, sets, and frequency. (Locked) More »

A plan for flexibility

As people age, flexibility enables them to active, perform everyday movements, and avoid injuries. Still, most would admit they lack flexibility and that they don’t give it the necessary attention. Flexibility is something that most older people can improve with some effort and commitment. A simple set of three stretches, done regularly, can improve flexibility in the common problem areas of the backs of the thighs, the hips, and the chest. (Locked) More »

Music to your health

A favorite tune can stir up positive memories, boost mood, and create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. Now science has found that listening to music can stimulate brain regions that change how people think and move. Used in specific ways, music can help people in various health-related areas, such as improving exercise performance, sleeping better, and coping with medical procedures. (Locked) More »

Put a song in your heart

Music’s mood-enhancing ability may have cardiovascular benefits. Listening to energizing music may help people exercise, while listening to calming music may help people before, during, and after heart-related procedures by reducing pain and anxiety. Certain songs (such as "Stayin’ Alive") can help bystanders responding to a cardiac arrest remember the correct rhythm for doing chest compressions. (Locked) More »

Tai chi or yoga? 4 important differences

Tai chi and yoga are gentle exercises that share a long list of benefits, such as pain reduction and improved balance, flexibility, strength, mobility, mood, quality of life, range of motion, reflexes, and thinking skills. But the exercises have subtle differences. For example, tai chi consists mostly of flowing movements, while yoga has mostly static poses. And tai chi is typically performed while standing; yoga may be performed while standing, lying down, sitting on the floor, or kneeling on all fours. Choosing one over the other often comes down to personal preference and practical considerations. (Locked) More »

The benefits of brief bursts of exercise

Doing vigorous exercise for just 12 minutes triggers changes in blood levels of substances linked to cardiovascular health. The patterns of these substances may provide a way to gauge a person’s fitness level. More »

Try this move for better core strength

Strengthening your core using plank exercises can help ease back pain. The plank position is essentially the high part of a push-up. People who can’t hold this position can try a modified version by bending their knees and resting them on the ground. Build strength by practicing holding a plank for as long as you can, and then progressively working to hold it for longer each time. More »