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

Depression and heart disease: A double-edged sword?

Depression and cardiovascular disease are common conditions that often occur together. People with depression can find it hard to muster the energy to stick to healthy habits, including choosing and preparing healthy foods and taking prescribed medications on schedule. Three lifestyle changes can improve both illnesses: doing regular exercise, getting plenty of high-quality sleep, and practicing mindfulness meditation. Antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft) and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help ease depression in people with cardiovascular disease. So can cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to help people recognize and change ingrained, negative thoughts or behaviors. (Locked) More »

The best core exercises for older adults

The best exercises for core muscles are the ones that strengthen several core muscle groups at the same time. Examples of these exercises are bridges and planks. Sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor because they strengthen only a few muscles and because they pose risks for older adults from pulling on the neck. Experts recommend that people first beginning a core-strengthening routine start out slowly, focusing on the quality of the exercise and gradually increasing the number of repetitions in subsequent workouts. More »

The powerful play of pickleball

Pickleball, one of the country’s fastest-growing racquet sports, is an optimal activity for older adults as it offers cardiovascular health benefits, helps improve cognitive skills, and is a fun way to socialize. The game also can help improve balance to help reduce the risk of falls, and can accommodate different fitness levels. (Locked) More »

Why you should consider hiring a personal trainer

A personal trainer can provide a safe, effective, and well-rounded exercise routine that is customized to a person’s age, health conditions, and goals. Many people who exercise in gyms don’t get any formal instruction about how to use the machines. Learning the correct body posture, body mechanics, and breathing techniques can provide a more balanced workout. A varied routine can help prevent overuse injuries, stave off boredom, and improve a person’s ability to do other activities, from carrying groceries to swinging a tennis racquet or golf club. (Locked) More »

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 »

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 »

Ten churnings

The yoga routine "ten churnings" can be done on its own to help you get moving in the morning or to counteract stiffness after sitting for too long. In about six minutes, the routine can loosen up your joints and serve as a warm-up to a longer exercise session. To learn additional intermediate yoga exercises, visit: www.health.harvard.edu/iy More »