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

Don't skip cardiac rehab after a heart event

Most people think cardiac rehabilitation is all about exercise. Learning how to start and maintain a personalized physical activity regimen is only part of the program. The cardiac rehabilitation team takes a personalized approach to helping people understand their disease, their medications, the psychological issues that accompany heart problems, and necessary lifestyle changes. Cardiac rehab is proven to reduce cardiac risk factors and increase quality of life, and it’s covered by Medicare and most insurance plans. Yet fewer than 20% of people who would benefit actually enroll in a program. Work is under way to create cardiac rehab programs that are more accessible to a greater number of people with heart disease. (Locked) More »

10 tips to prevent injuries when you exercise

To avoid the sprains, strains, and other injuries that can occur with exercise, make sure your workout program is right for you. Warm up before each session and cool down afterward. Never exercise to the point of pain. (Locked) More »

Arthritic knees: Exercise can help, but don't overdo it

Exercise to strengthen an arthritic knee reduces pain and stiffness and improves daily functioning. It is important to match the right type and amount of exercise to the arthritis condition. Those with arthritis behind the kneecap should avoid deep knee bends and other moves that require large amounts of flexing the joint. Severe knee arthritis limits the amount of exercise possible. It can help to work with a physical therapist to design an appropriate exercise program that strengthens the knee without causing excessive pain and swelling. (Locked) More »

Before dementia begins: What helps?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a transitional stage before dementia. There is no treatment yet to stop MCI from progressing, but a healthy lifestyle and optimal medical care may slow it down and improve day-to-day function. This includes exercise and a heart-healthy diet and getting the best medical care for conditions that affect the arteries, like diabetes and heart disease. A special form of therapy called cognitive rehabilitation teaches strategies for working around memory loss and other impairments. There is no FDA-approved medication for MCI, but some doctors are willing to prescribe the drug donepezil (Aricept), which is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary supplements do not help prevent MCI from getting worse, but new drugs are being tested in clinical trials that could lead to better treatments. (Locked) More »

Blocked arteries may be causing that leg pain when you walk

Daily walking is essential to treat leg pain that starts when you walk for a while but subsides when you rest, a condition called intermittent claudication caused by blockages that impede blood flow in the legs. Supervised exercise is helpful to many, but may not be covered by health insurance. Home-based walking works well if the person is able to sustain daily motivation. Medication can also help to improve walking distance, but daily walking should always be part of treatment. (Locked) More »

Could your joint pain be bursitis?

Joint pain is a common complaint in aging, but the cause isn’t always arthritis. Sometimes the culprit is bursitis. It occurs when fluid-filled sacs near the joints called bursae become inflamed, most commonly at the shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, or even the buttocks. Treatment may include using ice, resting the area and relieving pressure on it, using anti-inflammatory medicines for a short period, exercising and stretching the muscles that support the joints, or getting a shot of corticosteroid into the inflamed bursa. (Locked) More »

Exercise-but avoid burnout

In one study, women who exercised two days a week were just as fit as those who worked out six days a week, possibly because they had more energy to stay active on days when they weren't at the gym. (Locked) More »

The importance of stretching

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which is needed to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when muscles are called on for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That increases the risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. If possible one should stretch daily, focusing on the lower extremities. It’s important to stretch after a workout, not before. More »