Being active is an important part of staying healthy at any age. Just by spending the optimal amount of time exercising each week, you’ll become healthier.
Regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight and drastically lowers your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, various cancers, and an array of other dangerous and deadly conditions. So exactly how much exercise do you need in order to reap all the rewards?
The answer to this magic question depends on your age. Keep reading to see how much you should be working out throughout life.
Children Ages 6 to 17
Children and adolescents need at least one hour (60 minutes) of physical activity every day. You may think that’s an unrealistic expectation, but there’s a good chance your child is already meeting this recommendation or is at least close to it (its more likely if your child’s physical education program has not been cut). Think of recess and gym class at school, and simply running around outside after school with friends. It’s a lot easier for kids to find enjoyment out of age-appropriate physical activities, and because they’re not working full-time jobs, they can get plenty of exercise with ease.
The three types of activities kids should include in their hour of exercise are aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening exercises, and bone-strengthening exercises.
Aerobic activities get the heart pumping and should make up the majority of a child’s hour of exercise. Examples include running, fast-paced walking, riding bikes, and swimming.
Children also need muscle- and bone-strengthening activities several days a week. Younger children enjoy exercises such as gymnastics, push-ups, climbing trees, playing on the jungle gym, or jumping rope. Older children and young teens may prefer lifting weights or playing on a sports team.
Adults Ages 18 to 64
The amount of exercise needed by a healthy adult of normal weight is broken down into two categories: moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity exercises. Each week, adults need either five hours (300 minutes) of moderate exercise each week or two and a half hours (150 minutes) of vigorous exercise each week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities at least two days of the week.
What counts as moderate-intensity exercise? To get your heart rate up and break a sweat, it usually takes more than shopping or doing the laundry. If, while exercising you can talk but not sing the lyrics to a song, you are probably exercising at a moderate level. Activities considered moderate intensity include brisk walking, water aerobics, doubles tennis, or riding a bicycle on level ground.
Vigorous exercise takes place when you’re breathing fast and your heart rate is elevated. You know you’re at a vigorous level if you’re unable to talk without pausing for breath. Examples include swimming laps, jogging, running, playing singles tennis or basketball, or bike riding on hills or at a fast pace.
In addition to aerobic exercise, adults need to add muscle-strengthening exercises to their routine at least two days a week. These exercises should target all muscle groups (shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, hips, and legs) and include activities such as pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, bending, lifting and rotating.
Adults over 65 years of age who are in good physical health should aim for two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate exercise or one hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous exercise.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to exercise? That’s where I come in.
It’s my passion to make exercise a regular and enjoyable part of your life. I’d like to see you enjoy all of the healthy rewards of being fit.
Brien Shamp brings you 22 years of experience as a Body Transformation Expert, Personal Trainer, Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, Massage Therapist, Strength Coach for College & Pro Athletes and Reiki Practitioner. In 2011 he was nominated one of the top ten trainers in the country. Brien has a degree in Biomechanics from UC Davis and extensive graduate studies in Exercise Physiology from SF State. Brien won first place in the Met-Rx World’s Best Personal Trainer Contest in 1999 and was nominated Best in the Bay by KRON 4 for Weight Loss in 2009. He is an active author in Parenting on the Peninsula, Ms. Fitness Magazine and his FREE Blog with thousands of subscribers at www.BrienShamp.com