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New Exercise Guidelines

Tuesday, September 4, 2007




New Exercise Guidelines - Tuesday, September 4, 2007It's been over ten years since the American College of Sports Medicine issued guidelines for physical activity. Recently, they partnered with the American Heart Association to update their recommendations based on available evidence of the benefits of physical activity. Their guidelines have become more explicit, but they may seem a bit complicated at first glance.

Actually, there are more similarities than differences about the new and old guidelines.

For healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65, the ACSM recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity - such as walking or recumbent biking - at least 5 days a week. If you do vigorous activity - such as running - you need only do it for 20 minutes three times per week. You can mix and match vigorous and moderate intensity activities over the course of the week, or on any day, for that matter. If you have a busy schedule, you can also break the exercise sessions into 10 minute chunks, like 10 minutes of walking after breakfast, 10 after lunch, and 10 after dinner.

Some bad news: Routine activities of daily living - like household chores - don't count towards the time needed for aerobic activity.

The ACSM encourages adults to exercise more than the minimum amount, assuming that they're healthy and injury-free. Doing more results in even greater health benefits.

Also new is an emphasis on the complementary role of strength training to cardiovascular conditioning. Do 8 to 10 resistance exercises for 8 to 12 repetitions each, at least twice a week. Perform at least one exercise for each of the major muscle groups. Strength training increases muscle tone, improves bone health, and reduces the risk of falls. It also helps burn calories.

Excerpted from the new American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines:
  • Guidelines for healthy adults under age 65
    • Basic recommendations from ACSM and AHA:
  • Guidelines for adults over age 65 (or adults 50-64 with chronic conditions, such as arthritis)
    • Basic recommendations from ACSM and AHA:

Both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity is critical for healthy aging. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise means working hard at about a level-six intensity on a scale of 10. You should still be able to carry on a conversation during exercise.

Older adults or adults with chronic conditions should develop an activity plan with a health professional to manage risks and take therapeutic needs into account. This will maximize the benefits of physical activity and ensure your safety.

For more information:

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.