Without exercise, longevity becomes further out of reach
- All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
- For substantial health benefits, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
- For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
- Adults also should do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate- or high-intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
By Lauren Glendenning
Editors note: This content is sponsored by UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center
The human body is built for performance, but ignoring proper maintenance could result in failed systems that can wreak havoc on health and wellness.
Maintenance includes preventative medicine and proper nutrition, but it must also include regular exercise if you want your body to functionas long as possible. Exercise also increases and improves quality of life and reduces the risks for certain diseases, said Marti Irish, physical therapist at UCHealth SportsMed Clinic in Steamboat Springs.
“To get up and move helps with joint lubrication and can help decrease pain as we get older,” she said, adding that exercise and movement helps prevent bone density loss, too.
With countless studies reporting the long list of health benefits from exercise, only about 1 in 5 adults get enough exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How much exercise is enough?
Routine is an important part of getting regular exercise, said Marty Melland, occupational therapist and manager of rehabilitative services at UCHealth SportsMed Clinic. If you make exercise a part of your daily routine — just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower — it becomes something for which you don’t have to “make time.”
“As we age, our bodies do break down. If we can start these routines earlier in life, they’re easier to maintain throughout life,” he said.
Thirty minutes or more per day of regular exercise helps reduce the risks of many diseases. One recent CDC study found that people who are physically active more than seven hours per week have a 40 percent lower chance of dying early.
A sedentary lifestyle not only contributes to weight gain, but also less obvious consequences. Irish said things like neck and back pain, and poor postural habits, can result from physical inactivity.
“To get up and move helps with our joint lubrication and can help decrease pain as we get older,” she said.
Never too late
While healthy exercise habits are most beneficial when they become a routine early on in life, it’s really never too late to improve, Melland said. Harvard Medical School cites several studies that looked at people who began exercise habits later in life. The results: Late exercise adopters enjoy better health and a lower death rate than couch potatoes. Moreover, late adopters of other healthy habits such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and not smoking, also provide improved health benefits regardless of how old you are when you start. The only important step to take before beginning a new exercise program is to consult with your primary care physician first.
“No matter where you are in the life cycle, you can always build up strength, increase balance and increase cardiovascular fitness,” Melland said. “It’s got to be a progression. You can’t go out and run 30 minutes a day at first. Start slow with a gentle exercise program that sets realistic goals. We try to encourage any activity we can, with realistic, small steps.”
For people who struggle with knowing where to begin, Irish encourages connecting into community resources such as exercise classes. Simple outdoor activities such as walking or biking are also great places to start.
“Find what you love and just do it,” Irish said. “It won’t be the same for everyone, but you need some form of aerobic, strength and balance, agility, flexibility and stretching exercises in your routine.”
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