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It’s that time of year again. The time for fresh starts, new goals, and resolutions. This includes setting fitness, physical activity, recreation, and exercise goals for many. With endless experts and information overload available, it can be a daunting task to answer the question of, what’s best for my health?

The short answer for most of us is, “more than I am currently doing right now.” Moving more has enormous benefits for everyone no matter your age, sex, race, or current level of fitness. This includes people with chronic disease, disability, as well as women who are pregnant.

What sorts of benefits?

The list is extensive, including a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, falls, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep to name a few. Benefits of muscle strengthening include increased bone strength and muscular fitness.

Strength training can help you retain muscle mass, both during weight loss, and as you age.

For substantial health benefits, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two ideally spread throughout the week. That’s around 20 minutes of moderate intensity or about 10 minutes of vigorous intensity per day. Adults should also do strengthening activities 2 or more days a week.

What does intensity mean?

Intensity is relative. An inactive person might find a particular activity more intense while an active person may find that activity relatively easy. Some general examples of moderate intensity activities include: a brisk walk, recreational swimming, biking <10mph, line dancing, yoga, and general yard work. Vigorous intensity exercises might include: jogging or running, lap swimming, cycling >10mph, jump rope, hiking uphill or with a heavy pack, HIIT.

How to use the “talk test”

A good test for yourself is the “talk test.” During moderate intensity activity, you can talk but not sing while performing the activity. During vigorous intensity activity, you cannot say more than a few words without needing to take a breath.

Muscle strengthening exercises are performed at a higher intensity where your muscles are doing more work than you would normally do during your daily activities and life. Examples include lifting weights, using resistance bands, calisthenics, heavy gardening, and carrying heavy loads.

A good goal would be to train major muscle groups in your legs, hips, back, chest, trunk, shoulders, and arms 2 times a week. The intensity should be high enough that when you finish an exercise you find it difficult to perform another repetition, with exercise sets typically finishing in less than 12 repetitions.

Start moving today

Are you feeling intimidated by all these minutes? Don’t feel like you have to do all of these all at once! Just moving more matters. The greatest change in health benefits comes from moving 0 minutes to 60 a week. That’s less than 10 minutes a day with no duration minimum. Already active? More is still better, with benefits extending beyond 300 minutes of physical activity without health detriment.

In 2023 park a little farther away, take the stairs, and choose to move more.

Don’t rush! Injury is more likely if you increase your activity too quickly. It’s not the load that hurts you, it’s the load you aren’t prepared for.

Have an injury or pain that you feel is limiting you from pursuing these guidelines? Schedule an evaluation so that we can work together to get you back to doing what you want. We are here to help.

For more information about the physical activity guidelines refer to the primary source for this
post at: https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf