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

Fitness over 50: Rebooting your workout

Jumping back into a workout after a long period of being sedentary sets people up for injury. Before rebooting a workout regimen, one should get the all-clear from a doctor, and make sure there aren’t any underlying health problems that could make exercising dangerous. Choosing a new exercise routine should include a current assessment of abilities and limitations. Then, one should ease into exercise with a low-intensity workout for 20 or 30 minutes, and increase the intensity and length over time. More »

Tai chi: A kinder, gentler approach to cardiac rehab?

Tai chi is a gentle exercise that involves a series of flowing movements and breath awareness. It may be a good alternative for people who decline to participate in cardiac rehabilitation, particularly if they think the exercise aspect of rehab will be too tiring or difficult. Tai chi is less physically demanding than many other forms of exercise and may also help lower stress. Regular practice may also modestly lower blood pressure and benefit people with heart failure, who tend to be tired and weak as a result of the heart’s diminished pumping ability. More »

Give spinning a whirl

Spinning classes offer a great cardiovascular workout for older men and can help build lower-body muscle strength. Spinning is also a low-impact exercise that places less stress on the joints, which makes it ideal for men with knee or hip issues or those recovering from orthopedic injuries. (Locked) More »

If exercise feels like work, make it more like a game

Making exercise more fun by introducing aspects from games may help encourage people to be more physically active. This “gamification” helps motivate people through collaboration, competition, and team spirit. For example, members of families who turned their daily step counts into a competition boosted their daily walking distance by almost one mile, or more than twice as much as families who didn’t gamify their exercise routine. (Locked) More »

Thinking about training for a triathlon?

The odds of sudden death or cardiac arrest during a triathlon are very small—less than one in 50,000. Most fatalities occur during the swimming segment of the competition and are more likely to occur in men who are middle-aged or older. People with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, or other risks for heart disease should check with a doctor before starting triathlon training. (Locked) More »

What to look for in a home treadmill

Home treadmill options are varied. Harvard experts recommend shopping for a home treadmill with a strong motor, a deck long enough for your stride, a sturdy frame and side rails, an emergency stop button, gauges that are easy to read, and buttons that are easy to use. Other options to consider include a built-in TV screen and compatibility with heart rate monitors. A person should try out a treadmill before buying it and make sure the treadmill comes with a warranty that includes servicing the motor. (Locked) More »

Feel the beat of heart rate training

Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. A good way to maintain moderate intensity is with heart rate training, in which a person exercises at 60% to 75% of maximum heart rate. By wearing a heart rate monitor while exercising, a person can have a constant reminder of exercise intensity, so he or she can stay in the moderate-intensity zone as much as possible. (Locked) More »

Roll away muscle pain

Muscle soreness can become a regular part of daily life as a person ages. If aches and tightness interfere with daily living, adopting a foam rolling routine can help. Foam rollers can address common problem area like calves, hamstrings, lower back, and IT (iliotibial) bands. The roller glides over muscles much like a rolling pin to knead out knots, and it’s firm enough to apply sufficient pressure to address deep spots. (Locked) More »

Staying connected can improve your health

Research shows that loneliness may have ill effects for health. Social bonds can fray as people age, particularly in times of stress such as after the loss of a partner or in cases of illness or disability. Taking steps to reconnect can not only help improve social life, but can also help protect health over the long term. More »