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.
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
People who run—even in small amounts—are less likely to die during a given period, according to an analysis published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The benefit was seen even among people who ran for less than 50 minutes once a week at speeds below 6 mph.
Even if you’ve never done formal exercise, some regular moderate exercise — ideally for at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure and many other risk factors linked to heart disease.
People in rural areas were more likely to die of preventable causes than those living in urban areas, according to a CDC report.
Poor posture doesn’t just affect your appearance. It may lead to chronic pain and a curvature of the upper back known as kyphosis. Exercises that target your upper body, back, and core can help improve your posture. Other good strategies are to try yoga or tai chi or to work with a physical therapist to improve your strength and flexibility.
Chimpanzees, which are humans’ closest evolutionary relatives, have hearts with thick, stiff walls. This adaptation reflects their need for short bouts of climbing and fighting. In contrast, prehistoric people had to hunt and gather food to survive, so the human heart evolved to have thinner, more flexible walls. These adaptations reinforce the importance of regular brisk walking or jogging throughout life to stay healthy. Young people who don’t exercise regularly may have hearts that more closely resemble chimpanzee hearts. This may contribute to high blood pressure later in life.
Many risk factors for osteoporosis, such as sex, age, and genes, are not modifiable. But women at risk can make changes to improve bone health, such as not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption, exercising more, and adopting a healthy diet rich in calcium and getting enough vitamin D.
Listening to up-tempo music (135 to 142 beats per minute) may help make interval training exercise more enjoyable as well as more effective.
As people age, their sense of balance can sharply decline, which can raise the risk of injuries and even death from falls. Changes in flexibility, muscle strength and power, body sensation, reflexes, and even mental function all contribute to declining balance. Adding balance exercises and multifaceted movements can help.
Muscle-strengthening exercises are increasingly being recognized as playing an important role in cardiovascular health. With a set of dumbbells and a few simple moves, people can get a good strength workout at home. Two basic exercises that strengthen a wide range of muscles in the body are a squat and a bent-over row. Boosting muscle mass helps burn more calories, both during and after exercise. Stronger muscles help the body pull oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream more efficiently, lightening the load on the heart.
A new strategy called high-intensity incidental physical activity, or HIIPA for short, can help boost fitness, especially in individuals who are sedentary. The strategy encourages people to incorporate short bursts of moderately challenging regular activities—such as climbing the stairs, heavy cleaning, or walking from a more distant parking space to an entrance—to boost fitness. It builds on the concept of high-intensity interval training, but also adopts new information that shows activity doesn’t necessarily need to be formal exercise to count toward fitness goals.