Exercise for Optimal Health


I’m often asked, “How much exercise should I be getting?” Many of the clients I see are completely inactive or doing very little when they first come to see me. To those clients I say some activity- really any activity- is better than none at all.

How much activity you need really depends on what your goals are. For general health improvement and longevity adults should be doing 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (like brisk walking or doubles tennis) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise (like jogging/running or singles tennis).  In order to lose weight you have to amp it up a bit and increase your activity to 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity.

It is also important to incorporate some muscle-strengthening activities that include all major muscle groups at least 2 days a week for at least 30 minutes.  Some examples are:  yoga, pilates/barre, weight training, and group conditioning class.  Women, in particular, seem to shy away from including strengthening exercises for fear of bulking up, but maintaining lean muscle mass is key and is good for your body.  You can even break your activity sessions up into shorter bouts if that is what works for you.  Even 10 minutes is beneficial.

There are an abundance of options out there to help you get moving.  You can access on demand workouts through your cable TV, buy a DVD, find a trainer, join a yoga or pilates studio, or just enjoy being active outdoors.  There are also lots of apps and websites that can provide workouts for you too like Hot5, Daily Burn, Nike Training Club App, and Livestrong.com – just to name a few.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:
– Control your weight
– Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
– Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and improve blood sugars if you are a diabetic
– Reduce your risk of some cancers
– Strengthen your bones and muscles
– Improve your mental health and mood
– Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Improve sleep
– Increase your chances of living longer

Think about which of these reasons for becoming more physically active is most important to you.  Write them down and use them as motivation.  We must move our bodies regularly if we want to stay healthy long term.  Finding what you enjoy doing is key to sticking with it and being consistent.  Hate running?  Skip it and find some other enjoyable way to get your heart rate up.

I often suggest to clients that they put reminders in their phones to get up and get moving throughout the day and also to schedule workouts for the week ahead and put them in their calendar – making them just as important as any other scheduled appointment.

Start somewhere today.  Make a plan and get moving!