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

Another reason to get out there and get moving!

Parkinson's disease is a brain disease that affects the body and how it moves. Yet moving the body — that is to say, exercising — may be one of the best and most underutilized ways of combating the condition. Exercising vigorously when you're middle-aged may lessen your chance of getting Parkinson's disease when you're older. And for people who already have the disease, exercise during the early stages — when a fair amount of physical movement is still possible — may slow the pace at which the disease gets worse and physical movement becomes increasingly difficult. More »

Fun and exergames: Not just for kids anymore

If you're searching for an effective routine that's actually fun, or want a high-tech take on fitness, consider active-play video games, also called exergames. No longer just for youngsters, exergames such as Nintendo's Wii Fitness and Xbox's Kinect Sports are catching on with middle-aged and older adults as an enjoyable way to get moving. Exergames offer diverse activities and benefits from playing. Depending on the system, you can choose from muscle-strengthening workouts, balance and stretching games, aerobic exercises and dancing, martial arts, and simulated recreational activities such as golf, skiing, ping-pong, and bowling. More »

Exercising with respiratory infections

I do my best to exercise every day, either walking two miles in good weather or riding my exercise bike for 30 minutes on wet or cold days. Should I keep going when I catch a cold, or would I be better off resting? (Locked) More »

Increasing activity can be a walk in the park

Adding regular physical activity to your daily routine is easier than you might think. Park a distance away from where you work or shop, climb stairs instead of using elevators. If you live within walking or bicycling distance of the bank, supermarket, post office, or place of worship, use your legs instead of a car to get there. (Locked) More »

Yoga and stretching are equally effective for easing low back pain

Low back pain is extremely common; about 80% of us will experience an episode at some time in our lives. The pain usually goes away in a couple of months or so, but it often recurs. Some people develop a chronic form that lasts three months or longer. There are many treatments for chronic low back pain, but none have proved highly effective. Now, a large controlled trial has found that both yoga and stretching exercises are helpful in improving function and reducing symptoms. (Locked) More »

December 2011 references and further reading

Deyell M, Buller C, Miller L, Wang T, Dai D, Lamas G, Srinivas V, Hochman J. Impact of National Clinical Guideline Recommendations for Revascularization of Persistently Occluded Infarct-Related Arteries on Clinical Practice in the United States. Archives of Internal Medicine 2011; 171: 1636-1643. Terkelsen C, Jensen L, Tilsted H, Trautner S, Johnsen S, Vach W, Bøtker H, Thuesen L, Lassen J. Health care system delay and heart failure in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction treated with primary percutaneous coronary intervention: follow-up of population-based medical registry data. Annals of Internal Medicine 2011;155:361-7. Greenspon A, Patel J, Lau E, Ochoa J, Frisch D, Ho R, Pavri B, Kurtz S. 16-year trends in the infection burden for pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators in the United States 1993 to 2008. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2011; 58:1001-6. (Locked) More »

Putting heart attack, stroke triggers in perspective

Certain activities and situations can trigger heart attacks in those at risk, but researchers are showing how these risks need to be placed in the proper context. The impact of triggers depends largely on cardiovascular health. They are far more likely to cause a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest in a person with heart disease than in someone with a healthy heart and arteries. Physical condition also matters. Exercise or physical exertion is much more likely to trigger a heart attack in someone who leads a sedentary life than in someone who exercises regularly. It's almost impossible to avoid cardiovascular triggers, but you can reduce or inactivate their effects. (Locked) More »