The evidence that exercise is essential to good health is mounting: Those of us who exercise regularly live longer and enjoy better quality lives. Studies from just the last decade have shown that exercisers reduce their risks for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers, adverse blood lipid profiles, weight problems, osteoporosis, fall-related injuries, and sleep disorders . . . to name a few! A physically active lifestyle results in higher levels of cardiovascular and muscular fitness along with neurochemical changes to the brain and hormonal systems. These beneficial effects improve memory, cognition, overall mood, and functional wellness. So what kinds and types of exercise are needed to get results? According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are the standard guidelines for optimal fitness in apparently healthy adults and older adults: Aerobic activity: 3-5 days a week
Moderate intensity - power walking, hiking, or water aerobics for 150 minutes a week, or
Vigorous intensity – Indoor cycling, dancing, swimming laps for 75 minutes a week, or
A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity.
Activity must be done for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Want to know how hard you should be exercising? The CDC uses a scale of 0-10, zero being at complete rest and ten being maximum exertion. Moderate intensity is on the scale at 5-6, meaning the heart is beating fast and you are breathing harder. You can talk but not sing. Vigorous exercise has higher increase in heart rate, breathing is more rapid, and talking is reduced to only a few words at a time. Strength Training: 2-3 non-consecutive days a week, working every major muscle group in the body. Two to four sets of each exercise are recommended.
8-12 repetitions improve strength and power.
10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-aged and older persons starting exercise.
15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
Flexibility and Neuromotor Exercise: At least 2 days a week
Static stretching is the most common type of flexibility exercise; hold a stretch around 30 - 60 seconds per muscle group. You should stretch when the muscles are already warmed up.
Yoga and Tai Chi help with flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination.
The challenge today is to act on all this good news about the benefits of exercise. Why wait until a disease is full blown and needs prescription medications? Detect the early stages and root causes of disease and reverse them through lifestyle changes before prescriptions are needed! Using lifestyle therapies for disease management can minimize or even eliminate the need for prescription meds. This lifestyle medicine takes more time and more staff, including a Health Coach with the training and tools necessary to help you achieve and maintain your optimal health. Let’s do it!
By J. Dan Morris, M.D
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