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Life and Religion

Physical activity: How much and what counts
Get moving for optimal results
 
Published Thursday, January 10, 2013 8:29 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

We need physical activity to stay healthy, but exactly how much do we need?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week to reap health benefits, including increased life expectancy and lowered risks for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.


Aerobic activity, or “cardio,” gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. All it takes is 10 minutes at a time, but most daily activities like shopping, cooking or doing the laundry are too light to count.


Moderate-intensity cardio means your body is working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.


Examples of activities that require moderate effort include:


• Walking fast


• Water aerobics


• Riding a bike


• Doubles tennis


• Pushing a lawn mower


If you want to get the same benefits in less time, consider more vigorous types of activity or a mix of the two each week. Vigorous-intensity cardio means you’re breathing hard and fast and your heart rate is up quite a bit. At this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.


As a general rule of thumb, one minute of vigorous-activity cardio is about the same as two minutes of moderate-intensity activity, meaning you only need half as much or 75 minutes each week to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.
Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include:


• Jogging or running


• Swimming


• Riding a bike fast or on hills


• Singles tennis


• Basketball


To gain greater health benefits, spend more time exercising. The CDC recommends increasing your activity level slowly if you have not been very actively lately. You need to feel comfortable doing moderate-intensity activities before you move on to more vigorous ones.

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