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

Interval training for a stronger heart

Interval training means alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and brief periods of rest or less-intense activity. Interval training builds cardiovascular fitness, although it does require exercisers to push their personal limit. Another benefit is being able to get the same amount of aerobic (oxygen-burning) exercise in a shorter (but more intense) workout. Whatever a man’s current exercise regimen, he can often adapt it for interval training. To avoid injury or fatigue, it’s wise to work up slowly to intense exercise.  More »

Tai chi: A gentle exercise that may help heal your heart

Tai chi, a flowing, meditative exercise from China, may improve a number of cardiovascular conditions, especially heart failure. The benefits are thought to arise from its combined focus on movement, breathing, and focused, relaxed attention. For people with heart failure, tai chi may help improve stamina, mood, and quality of life. Other possible benefits include improved oxygen uptake, lower blood pressure and, for stroke survivors, a lower risk of falling. (Locked) More »

The benefits and risks of rediscovering your favorite sport

Playing in a sports league in older age has many benefits, such as exercise and socialization. But it’s important to discuss it first with a doctor, understand physical limitations, and learn the signs of physical trouble. Underlying medical problems can affect exercise tolerance and safety, especially for high-impact sports such as soccer, basketball, or running. In order to play sports safely, one should get back in the game by working on key aspects of fitness first, such as aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, and a healthy diet. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Stretching before exercise

Research has found no advantage to stretching before exercise. A gradual, active warm-up period before exercise could loosen joints, get blood flowing to muscles, and allow the heart to adapt to the increased demands of exercise. More »

Ask the doctor: Understanding ejection fraction

A normal ejection fraction—the volume of blood pumped out of the heart’s left ventricle—is 55% to 65%. For people with a low ejection fraction, medications and exercise (under a doctor’s supervision) may help improve or stabilize the ejection fraction. More »

Don't worry about sudden cardiac arrest during exercise

Exercise-related heart deaths are rare, accounting for just 5% of cases of sudden cardiac arrest. The condition, in which the heart suddenly stops working, can occur in people with or without known heart disease. One possible cause is an electrical problem with the heart, which can be triggered by a heart attack. Regular, moderate-intensity exercise is the best way to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. (Locked) More »

Tests for hidden heart disease

Electrocardiograms and exercise stress tests are not recommended for checking otherwise healthy men for hidden heart disease. Traditional cardiac risk factors provide a more accurate assessment of heart attack risk than screening tests do. The key factors are age, body mass index, family history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and whether you smoke or have diabetes. A test called a coronary artery calcium scan can help men make decisions about preventive heart care in certain circumstances. (Locked) More »