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

Leisure time exercise

Like his father and grandfather before him, the typical American man of the 21st century works for his living. In most cases, though, he works with his mind, not his body. It wasn't always that way. As recently as the 19th century, 30% of all the energy used in the American workplace was provided by human muscle power; today, the percentage is minuscule. In most ways, the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial society to today's information age has been a great boon. But something has also been lost. Technology has freed men from physical labor both at work and at home. In addition, unprecedented efficiency, productivity, and affluence have produced shorter workdays, more vacation time, and earlier retirement. It all adds up to more free time for most men. More »

The health benefits of tai chi

Tai chi is gentle and not strenuous, but it has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle strength, flexibility, and balance, and it can be practiced by people in nearly any state of health or physical condition. More »

Yoga for anxiety and depression

A growing number of studies indicate that yoga may be a beneficial treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. More »

Cold fingers, cold toes? Could be Raynaud's

In Raynaud's phenomenon, even a slight decrease in temperature can cause a pronounced loss of blood flow to the hands. It can often be treated by protecting against exposure to cold, avoiding medications that constrict blood vessels, and exercising. More »

A Web-based way of tracking your physical activity level

If you want to keep tabs on your activity level and how many calories you're burning without buying a gadget, check out this government Web site: www.choosemyplate.gov It's run by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Why is the USDA in the exercise business? Because the department promulgates nutrition guidelines, and good nutrition necessarily involves energy balance, which means making sure that the amount of calories you're taking in should match the number you're burning — and be less if you are trying to lose weight. So although you can't eat physical activity, it's part of the USDA food pyramid. (Locked) More »

Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights

The table below lists the calories burned by doing dozens of activities listed by category (such as gym activities, training and sports activities, home repair etc.) for 30 minutes. Activities and exercises include walking (casual, race, and everything in between), swimming, jogging, yoga, and even watching TV and sleeping. In each category, activities are listed from least to most calories burned. (This table was first printed in the July 2004 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter. For more information or to order, please go to http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart.) More »