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How Much Physical Activity Is Enough?

How much physical activity do you need to do? That's a good question, but you may also want to consider what type of physical activity you do.

 

Safety First!

Before answering those questions, it's important to remind you about exercising safely. If you have not previously engaged in any physical activity, have not done so for some considerable time, or intend to increase the amount or intensity, it is advised to get clearance to do so from a professional physician.

 

The Recommended Amount Of Physical Activity

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2018) recommends the following amount of physical activity, for adults:

  • Energy expenditure equal to 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity
  • Or energy expenditure equal to 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity
  • Or a combination of both that would equal the energy expenditure of either of the above

Additional health benefits may be obtained with:

  • Energy expenditure equal to 300 minutes per week or more of moderate intensity aerobic activity
  • Or energy expenditure equivalent to 150 minutes per week or more of vigorous aerobic activity
  • Of a combination of both that would equal the energy expenditure of either of these regimens

Resistance training provides additional health benefits:

  • Engage in muscle strengthening activities of moderate or high intensity, involving all of the major muscle groups, at least two days per week

 

What Types Of Physical Activity Are Appropriate?

Aerobic (Cardio) Activities:

Exercises that raise your heart rate and typically last 30 minutes or longer. This is a workout for your heart and lungs. Example include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Running, jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Circuit Training
  • Hight Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

 

Resistance Training:

Resistance training increases muscle mass, strength, and power - depending on the number of repetitions completed (This will be covered in later blog).

Typical exercise include:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Leg Curls
  • Bench Press
  • Lat Pulldown
  • Bicep Curls
  • Triceps Pushdown
  • Military Press

 

Exercise Intensity

What do we mean by exercise intensity? It depends on the type of exercise, aerobic or resistance training.

 

Aerobic:

The intensity of aerobic activity refers to working at a level where your heart rate increases to a percentage of your age-related maximal heart rate.

Your age-related maximal heart rate may be estimated by using the following formula: 220 - age.

Moderate intensity aerobic activity is exercising at a level where your heart rate is between 64-76% of your maximal heart rate. Let's take the example of a 30 year old.

220 - 30 = 190 beat per minute (bpm). So the maximal heart rate for this individual is estimated to be 190 bpm. Then we want to determine what 64% and 76% of 190 is.

64% x 190 bpm = 122 bpm, and 76% x 190 bpm = 144 bpm. So this individual would be exercising at moderate aerobic intensity, when their heart rate is in the range of 122 - 144 bpm.

Vigorous intensity aerobic activity is exercising at a level where your heart rate is between 77-95% of your age-related maximal heart rate.

Near maximal to maximal intensity aerobic activity refers to exercising at a level where your heart is greater than or equal to 96% of your age-related maximal heart rate.

 

 

Resistance Training:

The intensity of resistance training refers to the amount of weight (lifted, pressed etc.) as a percentage of the amount you could lift for a single repetition (One repetition maximum, 1RM).

Moderate intensity resistance exercise refers to a weight that is 50-69% of your 1RM, for a given exercise (e.g., Bench Press).

Vigorous intensity resistance exercise refers to a weight that is 70-84% of your 1RM, for a given exercise.

Near maximal to maximal intensity resistance training refers to a weight that is greater than or equal to 85% of your 1RM, for a given exercise. You may be working at this level if you have been resistance training for a while.

 

In summary, physical activity has benefits for our physiological health, but also our mental and cognitive health.

 

ACSM. (2018). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (10th ed.). Phiadelphia:Wolters Kluwer

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