Make Sure You Read This Before You Start Exercising [With Recommendations]

Table of Contents

We know that exercise is beneficial, but do you know why and how much you're supposed to exercise? Keep reading to find out.

Human civilization has undoubtedly come a long way.

A few thousand years ago, humans needed to be strong and mobile to survive in the wild. Today, a significant portion of the population can stay in their beds and still make a living to support their families.

Life is much easier today with modern privileges as compared to ancient times.

These luxuries, however, come at the cost to our health. In fact, a study by the European Society of Cardiology revealed that spending two decades living a sedentary lifestyle can double the risk of premature death.

Today, most people are accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle especially because most of us work from our computers both at home and in the office.

We barely have any time to allocate for physical exercise.

This is dangerous and draws emphasis on the importance of exercise in improving our health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle not only protects us from premature death, but helps us build our self-confidence, improve our mental health, promote our stress management skills and abilities, and provides us with a healthy-looking body.

Good things come to those who sweat.

What are 3 benefits of exercise?

Exercise powers up our brain

Exercise has tremendous benefits on our bodies, and among these benefits is its ability to improve our brain performance. Research has shown that 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can improve our short-term concentration. Other studies have claimed that committing to regular exercise can slow down the expected deterioration of our brain as we age. When brain aging slows down we can even prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Quality sleep

Allocating enough time to sleep every day is essential to foster a healthy lifestyle, however, sometimes you may need to do more to ensure that enjoying quality sleep is part of your routine. You can start by incorporating physical activity into your routine to help you sleep better and improve your overall lifestyle. Exercise helps burn excess energy, making it easier for your body to go into an anabolic or “repair” state. This usually translates to a more fitful and satisfying sleep.

Stronger bones and better balance

Engaging in exercise and regular workouts strengthen our bodies. Exercise gives us well-toned muscles, stronger bones, and a better sense of balance. As we grow older, we will find these things to work in our favor; which means that we will be less likely to fall or get into balanced-related accidents. We will realize that even at 60 years or older, our body will be ready to face unexpected circumstances. This will help avoid major health issues and unexpected injuries.

Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. Not a punishment for what you ate.

Integrating exercise into your daily life

For a well-rounded routine, we need to have both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Aerobic activities refer to any type of cardiovascular conditioning that increases our heart rate over a sustained amount of time. This includes brisk walking, running, swimming, and others.

Anaerobic activities are those that require quick bursts of energy, such as weight lifting and jumping.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week.

This can be coupled with anaerobic strength conditioning. If you spread out the 2 and a half hours throughout the week, you will realize that it’s not much and definitely manageable.

You can do approximately 22 minutes of exercise per day, which you can spread out even furthur into 5-10 minute sessions.

It is advisable to always strive for success, and it is no different when it comes to exercise and taking care of yourself.

Sometimes, however, it is recommended that you take baby steps, and so if you feel that 22 minutes is a bit much, you can manage just a few minutes a day.

If you have had a sedentary lifestyle for quite some time, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest easing exercise into your life rather than forcing it in one go.

For example, instead of taking a cab or commuting, why not walk to work? If you’re in the office, why not go out for a walk during your lunch break? There are many ways to sneak in some workouts into your daily routine. Trust us, they will all add up.

The demands of modern life can be overwhelming. But this is no excuse to neglect our physical health. The phrase “survival for the fittest” may not be as exactly applicable to us as it did in the past, but being fit and healthy will definitely allow you to thrive and succeed in today’s world.

“The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.”

Summary of Recommendations Based on Age

Key Guidelines from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Preschool-Aged Children

  • Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.
  • Adult caregivers of preschool-aged children should encourage active play that includes a variety of activity types.

Children and Adolescents

  • It is important to provide young people opportunities and encouragement to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.
  • Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily:
    1. Aerobic: Most of the 60 minutes or more per day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity on at least 3 days a week.
    2. Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days a week.
    3. Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days a week.

Adults

  • Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  • Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

Older Adults

The key guidelines for adults also apply to older adults. In addition, the following key guidelines are just for older adults:

  • As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
  • When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

Women During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

  • Women should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  • Women who habitually engaged in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or who were physically active before pregnancy can continue these activities during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
  • Women who are pregnant should be under the care of a health care provider who can monitor the progress of the pregnancy. Women who are pregnant can consult their health care provider about whether or how to adjust their physical activity during pregnancy and after the baby is born.

Adults with Chronic Health Conditions and Adults with Disabilities

  • Adults with chronic conditions or disabilities, who are able, should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  • Adults with chronic conditions or disabilities, who are able, should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
  • When adults with chronic conditions or disabilities are not able to meet the above key guidelines, they should engage in regular physical activity according to their abilities and should avoid inactivity.
  • Adults with chronic conditions or symptoms should be under the care of a health care provider. People with chronic conditions can consult a health care professional or physical activity specialist about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for their abilities and chronic conditions.
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