Exercise...how much, what type and how hard?

We all know we should exercise regularly - whether it be for weight loss or maintenance, for general fitness for work and play, for your heart, to help you sleep better or for your chosen sport or activity. The amount and type of exercise that is best to help reach your goals may vary enormously. The American College of Sports Medicine has posted its latest exercise recommendations for health, general fitness and longevity. Here's a summary.

Include CARDIO type exercise at least 150 minutes or 2 1/2 hours each week. For example, 30-60 minutes of moderate -intensity exercise 5/week. You could do this as one continuous session in a day or multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes).

Then add some RESISTANCE exercise 2-3 days per week using a variety of exercises and equipment e.g. at a gym, at home, even using your own body weight with no equipment.Lighter intensity exercises are best for older individuals.

Also perform some FLEXIBILITY exercises at least 2 or 3 days/week to improve range of motion.

Finally you need some more functional exercise that we call NEUROMOTOR exercise. This is recommended for 2 or 3 days/week for 20-30 minutesand should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination etc). Examples include Tai Chi, pilates and yoga. This is very important to improve your physical function and also to prevent falls in older individuals.

Although this adds up to 5-6 hours total for the week some sessions can be kept quite short and done at various times of day - as well as possibly combining sessions such as stretching with another more strenuous workout.

Remember that Sedentary behaviour, such as sitting for long periods of time, has been shown to be a health risk in itself. Meeting the guidelines for physical activity does not make up for a sedentary lifestyle!


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