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

Cardio dance routine

All you need are light clothing, a good pair of shoes and a few minutes of your day and Harvard exercise expert Michele Stanten will have you on your way to meeting your fitness goals. More »

Getting stronger despite frailty

Disease, surgery, and Father Time all can make men become frail and weak, which increases their risk of injury and slows recovery. However, there are ways to protect against frailty and even reverse its effects by adopting a multipronged approach of sufficient aerobic workouts, progressive resistance training, balance exercises, and proper nutrition. (Locked) More »

Stepping up treatments for PAD

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) happens when fatty deposits clog the arteries that supply blood to the legs. The hallmark symptom—leg cramping and pain—is called claudication (from the Latin word claudicatio, meaning “to limp”). People with PAD are also likely to have similar clogging (atherosclerosis) in their coronary arteries. One of the best therapies for PAD, called supervised exercise training, is now covered by Medicare. The therapy involves meeting with a trained exercise therapist to walk on a treadmill several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes over a 12-week period. More »

The many ways exercise helps your heart

Over the long term, exercise protects the heart in a number of ways, such as encouraging the heart’s arteries to dilate more readily and helping the sympathetic nervous system (which controls the heart rate and blood pressure) to be less reactive. But a single bout of exercise may protect the heart right away through a process called ischemic preconditioning. This phenomenon, which involves molecular and metabolic changes that help the heart adapt to inadequate blood flow, seems to protect the heart if a heart attack does occur, reducing damage by as much as 50%. (Locked) More »

Tips to help you embrace abdominal workouts

Some people don’t enjoy doing abdominal exercises and may find it more palatable to sprinkle abdominal exercises throughout the day. Ideas include taking a quick break to march in place, do a modified push-up, or stand on one leg. The key is to make each ab exercise count by “activating” the muscles. That means drawing in the belly button toward the spine, holding the position for 10 seconds, then relaxing and repeating. More »

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 »

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 »