In the 1970s and 1980s, many health care professionals believed the common refrain “no pain, no gain.” The recommendations for exercise were so demanding that many Americans just couldn’t meet them, got discouraged, and gave up. However, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine convened a panel in the mid-1990s to review the evidence on exercise.
They concluded that moderate exercise offered people the most overall health benefits, and that the number of calories expended on exercise per week mattered more than the intensity, length, or type of activity. As a result, the scientists issued a new set of guidelines that can be summarized by “less pain, more gain.”
Follow these recommendations, and you will be well on your way to building a foundation for fitness :-
– Ten-minute bouts of activity done three times a day are just as good as a continuous half-hour activity. For example, you could do a brisk fifteen-minute walk before going to work, then park your car ten minutes away from your office and walk that distance briskly in the morning. Then walk briskly back to your car at the end of the day. That’s thirty-five minutes of activity. Be flexible so you can make adjustments as needed. If it’s going to rain two days in a row, think of an indoor location where you can walk during lunch or at the end of the day. Or plan to walk for longer periods once the sun comes back out so that you still achieve your weekly goal.
– Aim to burn 1,000 to 1,400 calories a week during exercise, the number of calories expended per week found to correlate with health benefits. Walking briskly for thirty minutes (or an equivalent level of exercise) will expend 150-200 calories.
– Any activity is good if it gets you moving. But if you’re doing a low-intensity activity, do it for a longer period of time than you would a high-intensity exercise so you burn enough calories.
All sorts of activities count as you build your foundation of fitness: formal activities like aerobics or weight lifting at a gym; informal activities like walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator; recreational activities like tennis or golf (as long as you walk the fairways); even chores like housework or yard work. Remember, the more you do the greater the health benefits you will enjoy. The benefits don’t level off until you burn several thousand calories per week, something few of us are in danger of doing.