By now you know being heart healthy and losing weight go hand-in-hand with physical activity. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to be regularly active. If you want to lower triglycerides you have to be active. If you want to raise HDL you have to be active.
The Health and Human Services Department sets physical activity guidelines after reviewing a good decades worth of research related to physical activity and health.
This report encompasses everyone from the age of 6 and up. I want to share with you the current guidelines for adults.
Adult Physical Activity Guidelines
1. All adults should avoid inactivity.
Any type of activity is better than nothing. Adults who include activity as part of their everyday life gain some form of health benefit.
2. To see substantial health benefits, include at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) per week of moderate-intensity activity. If times a factor, you can see the same benefits by bumping up the intensity and being vigorously active 75 minutes (1 hr. 15 min.) each week.
Yes, it is still okay to break your activity into chunks. For example, if your schedule doesn’t allow 30 minutes at the gym, you can include a 10 minute brisk walk during lunch break to count towards the goal of 150 minutes for the week. However, workout segments less than 10 minutes in length are not as beneficial.
Also, the most benefit is seen by spreading your activity throughout the week. If you’re tempted to hit the gym for a power workout session on a Saturday for 2 ½ hours, that is not as beneficial as 30 minutes of activity 5 days out of the week. But, remember, any form/amount of activity is better than nothing3. If you want to take things to the next levels, more extensive health benefits are seen when activity is increased to 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity.
4. Don’t forget strength training! You want to include all major muscle groups on two or more days each week. Especially beneficial as we age and see a decline in metabolism (and corresponding weight gain) if muscle mass is not maintained.
Now, don’t panic and give up without even attempting to meet these guidelines. Activity does not have to be hard or expensive. You can walk your dog, go dancing, climb the stairs at work, mow the lawn, and go to the gym. There are many, many options available to get 2 ½ hours of physical activity every week.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.