The evidence is clear—physical activity helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But did you know that it also has many other benefits that support your overall well-being? Other benefits include more positive mood, increased energy, better sleep, and improved stress management. So how much physical activity do we need?
To maintain health and physical fitness, experts recommend:
- Getting your heart pumping with cardiovascular activities
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 or more days a week OR at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity 3 or more days a week.
- Improving muscle tone and fitness through strength training
Aim for 8 to 10 resistance exercises on 2 or more days a week. Be sure to include a set of exercises for each of the major muscle groups (arms, legs, back, and chest). Each exercise set should include 8 to 12 repetitions (for example, when doing bicep curls, lift and lower the weights 8 to 12 times—slowly). As you get stronger, you may want to work up to 2 to 3 sets of exercises for each major muscle group.
- Stretching and connecting with your body
Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of stretching activities at least 2 to 3 days a week. Be sure to stretch each of the major muscle groups (arms, legs, back, and chest).
These recommendations are the minimum for achieving a healthy level of fitness. More is better if you can manage (but don’t overdo it—especially when you’re first getting started). Also, it may take more activity to lose weight and to keep it off.
NOTE: Consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.