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

An efficient (and thrifty) way to exercise at home

Muscle-strengthening exercises are increasingly being recognized as playing an important role in cardiovascular health. With a set of dumbbells and a few simple moves, people can get a good strength workout at home. Two basic exercises that strengthen a wide range of muscles in the body are a squat and a bent-over row. Boosting muscle mass helps burn more calories, both during and after exercise. Stronger muscles help the body pull oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream more efficiently, lightening the load on the heart. (Locked) More »

Boost your activity level in small bites

A new strategy called high-intensity incidental physical activity, or HIIPA for short, can help boost fitness, especially in individuals who are sedentary. The strategy encourages people to incorporate short bursts of moderately challenging regular activities—such as climbing the stairs, heavy cleaning, or walking from a more distant parking space to an entrance—to boost fitness. It builds on the concept of high-intensity interval training, but also adopts new information that shows activity doesn’t necessarily need to be formal exercise to count toward fitness goals. (Locked) More »

Get fit to function

People spend a lot of time each day bending, reaching, lifting, twisting, turning, and squatting. The ability to do these ordinary movements is called functional fitness. Keeping functional fitness at an optimal level can help older adults stay active, healthy, and independent. (Locked) More »

Gifts from the heart, for the heart

For people looking for holiday gift suggestions, many ideas—from kitchen gadgets to sessions with a personal trainer—may inspire healthy eating and exercise habits. Other examples include a fruit-of-the month subscription, a Mediterranean-inspired gift basket, a cookbook that highlights plant-based meals, a gym membership, home exercise equipment such as dumbbells, or a pass to a yoga studio or another exercise class. (Locked) More »

Fitness trend: Nordic walking

Nordic walking is catching on in the United States as an exercise regimen, especially among older adults. The activity adds Nordic poles to a walking routine, and walkers then mimic the motions of cross-country skiers. Propelling oneself while walking combines cardiovascular exercise with a vigorous muscle workout for the shoulders, arms, core, and legs. Nordic walking is also associated with reductions in fat mass, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and waist circumference, and increases in “good” HDL cholesterol, endurance, muscle strength and flexibility, walking distance, cardiovascular fitness, and quality of life. More »

Give your heart health a lift

Cardio exercise may help improve many aspects of heart health, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce plaque buildup to improve blood flow, and help maintain a healthy weight. But if people cannot meet the 150 minutes of recommended weekly aerobic activity, new research suggests that weight training for just an hour per week can be just as effective for protecting against heart attacks and strokes. (Locked) More »

Keep your health habits on track during the holidays

The holiday season is a busy time of year when many people let their good exercise habits and diet slip. Planning ahead for the season can help people stay on track. Some strategies to help maintain good health habits include tracking your fitness and diet, focusing on social connections instead of food and drink at parties, and looking for new, interesting workouts. More »

Target heart rate on a beta blocker

People who take beta blockers (which lower the heart rate and blood pressure) may not be able to reach their target heart rate during exercise. Instead, they can use the perceived exertion scale to assess how hard they’re exercising. (Locked) More »