Exercising an hour and 15 minutes can reduce health risks.

The leading causes of death of women include heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.  Did you know that exercising as little as one hour and 15 minutes every week can decrease your risk of developing these health conditions?  In fact, research has shown that physical activity can reduce risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, and breast cancer.  Other benefits of physical activity include weight control, improved strength of bones and muscles, improved mental health including mood, improve your sleep patterns, and even increase your chances of living longer.  Recent studies have found improved brain function with physical activity in preadolescents and further research is being completed to determine if will actually improve brain development.    The CDC states, “Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity.” 

So how much physical activity do I need to complete and what type in order to reap these great health benefits? 

The CDC and American Heart Association recommend 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) or 1 hours and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.  You can also complete an equivalent mix of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity.  For even greater health benefits increase to 5 hours of moderate intensity, 2 hours of vigorous intensity, or a combination of the two.  Physical activity should be completed in at least 10 minute intervals. 

Children and adolescents need 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day.   Vigorous activity should be incorporated at least 3 days/week.  Muscle and bone strengthening are very important for musculoskeletal development and need to be incorporated 3 days/week.  This activity can be incorporated in daily play and recreational activities. 

How do I know if I am doing moderate intensity or vigorous? 

Level of intensity will vary from individual and depends on personal capacity.  One minute of vigorous activity is equivalent to two minutes of moderate intensity activity.  A good rule of thumb to consider is called the Talk Test.  For moderate intensity exercise you should be able to talk, but not sing and for vigorous intensity you should only be able to say a few words.  Another way to judge activity level is on a 10 point scale.  Moderate intensity would be rated 5 or 6 and vigorous intensity is usually a 7 or an 8. 

Who has time?

Research has shown the one of the most often cited limitations to completing physical activity is time.  If you break down the numbers 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity is 30 minutes 5 days a week or for even less time complete 25 minutes of vigorous physical activity 3 days a week.  If your schedule is very cramped, remember you can break down to at least 10 min increments. 

Get creative and make physical activity a social event in order to increase participation and sustainability of an exercise routine.  Incorporate things that you enjoy or find fun.  Seek out local resources for exercise ideas or locations.  Getting your family and friends involved will not only encourage their participation, but also your own.  You can even get your coworkers involved and make friendly competitions.  Completing physical activity does not have to be a task, incorporating it into your daily life and activities makes it a lifestyle change.  Also, think about the impact on the next generation.  If children and adolescents are encouraged to participate in physical activity as a family it will teach them the importance, they will gain the amazing health benefits, and will hopefully encourage them to continue throughout their lifetime! 

As always, speak your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine. 

At Harrison County Hospital, our Rehabilitation Department is able to care for you across your lifetime helping you maintain the ability to reach your physical activity goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Our rehab team is here to help you recover from injury, stroke, cardiovascular events, surgery, and many other impairments that keep you from reaching your physical activity goals or beginning a physical activity routine. Let our Rehab Department help you find the exercise that works for you!