According to author Dr. Mercola, 80% of Americans fail to meet US government exercise recommendations. The official standards the government recommends are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Benefits of following these guidelines include lower risk of colon and breast cancer and prevention of unhealthy weight gain. Move from 150 minutes a week toward 300 minutes a week and you can add lower risk of heart disease or diabetes to the list. Weightlifting activities for all the major muscle groups should be done at least 2 days a week. Here is a list of just some of the low intensity exercises recommended by the government.
- Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
- Water aerobics
- Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
- Tennis (doubles)
- Ballroom dancing
- General gardening
For instance, just one hour of moderate activity a week may lower your risk of premature death by 15 percent, while just 20 minutes of vigorous intensity once a week may lower it by 23 percent.6 Research also suggests that walking for one to 74 minutes a week may lower your risk of premature death by 19 percent compared to those who are sedentary.7
Just getting started is the key because the greatest improvement in your health is going to be in the initial stages. You will see immediate measurable benefits. If time is your problem, doing more strenuous exercising for 20 minutes two to three times a week, combined with weight training can be suffice. Be careful not to overstress your body when performing high intensity exercises.
As a rule, avoid doing high-intensity exercises more than twice or three times a week. You can enjoy other activities on the off-days, such as swimming, Pilates, yoga, biking, gardening, or whatever other activities tickle your fancy. I also encourage you to use a pedometer and walk as much as possible, ideally 7,000 to 15,000 steps daily.
Here is a list (not all inclusive) of what the government views as vigorous exercising.
- Race walking, jogging, or running
- Swimming laps
- Tennis (singles)
- Aerobic dancing
- Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
- Jumping rope
- Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing, with heart rate increases)
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
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