The American Heart Association’s recommendations for physical activity for adults are 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (30 minutes, 5 times per week) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (25 minutes, 3 times per week).
Moderate exercise is light to somewhat hard exercise on the perceived exertion scale. Vigorous exercise is very hard to maximal exertion on the scale. Perceived exertion scale is measured from 6-20, with moderate being in the 11-14 range, and vigorous at 17-20. Another measurement is the percent reached of maximal heart rate, which is approximately 220 minus your actual age.Moderate exercise is between 50-70% of maximal heart rate, and vigorous is between 70-85% of maximal heart rate.
As an example, a 40-year-old person needs to be in the range of 90 to 126 beats per minute when performing moderate exercise, and between 126-153 beats per minute during vigorous exercise.
What’s also important to know is that a fat-burning, cholesterol-reducing, blood pressure-lowering program should be at 60-70% of the maximal heart rate. So pushing yourself is not necessarily going to get you leaner. Overdoing it can also lead to injuries, such as sprains, strains, tendonitis, and tears.
Besides exercise that will reduce risk of stroke, heart disease, and burn fat, it is also important to incorporate flexibility and strength training. Stretching before, but more importantly after exercise, will reduce risk of injury, and improve agility. One of the most important muscle groups that needs to stretch is the hamstrings. Flexibility of this group reduces the risk of low back pain and knee pain. Core strengthening improves posture, and also decreases chance of neck, shoulder, and back injuries. Knee extensor strengthening lowers chance of knee pain.
The most important message is the importance of staying active. Whether it’s walking, running, swimming, biking, tennis, basketball, or any other activity, try to follow the recommendations of moderate or vigorous exercise. Use the exertion scale or heart rate. Stretch daily for a few minutes. Do the crunches. Lift some weights. Teach your kids that they need to exercise and be active for 60 minutes each day.