Many Americans are not getting the recommended amount of exercise each day. It is important for people to understand that physical inactivity has a wide range of health effects, including increased risk for hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that adults perform 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity in order to reduce their risk for coronary heart disease and improve their overall health. These guidelines are not meant to be hard rules and can be achieved through many different activities, such as walking briskly for 30 minutes twice a day.
Physical inactivity is a growing concern for children and adolescents. The National Center for Health Statistics found that in 2011, only about one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 participated in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey also reported that 17% of high school students never participated in any daily physical education classes.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans :
1. Be as physically active as you can be :
People tend to overestimate how many calories they burn through activity. If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to eat fewer calories than you burn. It is best not to try and balance your caloric intake by making up the difference through physical activity. The more active you become, the less likely it is that you will eat as much food as you need.
2. Increase the amount of physical activity :
The amount of time that you spend exercising is much more important than how long you exercise. If you increase the amount of time that you exercise, it will be easier to remain active as your body adapts.
3. Be consistent :
If you are not used to doing any physical activity, it is important to start by taking just a few minutes each day to do something. You can slowly increase the amount of time that you spend exercising as you become more active. It is also important to not only exercise every once in a while, but to be consistent with your workouts.
4. Identify activities that you enjoy :
The key is to find something that you will actually stick with. This may mean joining a recreational sport or activity or participating in an exercise class at the gym. The options are unlimited and there are many different ways for individuals of all ages and fitness levels to be physically active in their daily lives.
5. Keep track of your progress :
It is important to set short term goals for yourself in order to stay motivated. Try setting small goals for yourself and increasing the time that you spend being physically active as you reach each one. You can also keep a record of your workout times and distances so that you can look back and see your progress over time.
6. Get help if needed :
If you are having trouble staying active, try talking to your doctor or a fitness trainer about ways that you can be more physically active in your daily life. You can also look for support from your friends and family members who may also benefit from an increase in physical activity. It’s important to figure out a plan that works for you and your lifestyle.
7. Get started now! :
It is never too late to start being more physically active. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will start feeling the health benefits of a more active lifestyle. Active people are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. If you can do more than that, great! You may find that even just a little bit of physical activity can lead to many positive changes in your day-to-day life. The easiest way to get started is by adding 10 extra minutes to your daily routine.
Aerobic exercise should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes duration each week. This is sufficient for improvements of cardiovascular fitness. For a more healthful exercise regimen, it is recommended that the total duration of aerobic exercise per week be in the range of 30 to 60 minutes. Several shorter periods of activity can also be effective, provided they add up to at least 10 minutes per week.
The health benefits associated with aerobic physical activity are wide ranging. Aerobic activity reduces the risk factors associated with coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension (high blood pressure). It causes weight loss and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Aerobic activity increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and may aid in preventing age-related cognitive decline, dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.