What is healthy physical activity?
When some people think of physical activity, they think of playing sports or working out at a gym. If you don’t like doing those sorts of things, then the whole idea of being physically active may not be appealing.
But being physically active doesn’t have to mean playing basketball, doing push-ups, or jogging. Activities that require as much or more effort as 10 minutes of brisk walking count as healthy physical activity. For instance, if you manage a household and spend much of your day running up and down stairs, vacuuming floors, and chasing after toddlers, you may be getting plenty of healthy physical activity at home. If you work at a job that involves a lot of walking or lifting, you may be getting plenty of healthy physical activity at work.
One type of physical activity is aerobic activity, in which you move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips over and over again. During aerobic activity, you breathe faster and more deeply and your heart beats faster.
If your breathing and heart rate increase to a moderate degree, you activity is considered moderate degree, your activity is considered moderate intensity. Put another way, moderate – intensity physical activity is any activity that burns 3.7 to 7 calories per minute. An example would be walking on a level surface at a brisk pace (about 3 to 4 miles per hour).
If your breathing increases to much that is difficult to carry on a conversation, your activity is considered vigorous intensity. Vigorous-intensity activity is an activity that burns more than 7 calories per minute. An example would be jogging.
Below are some moderate and vigorous physical activities that you might consider.
|Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activities|
|Moderate activities||Vigorous activities|
|Leisure activities||Walking, ballroom dancing, leisurely bicycling, roller skating, canoeing||Jogging, bicycling fast or uphill, jumping rope, swimming continuous laps|
|Sports||Golfing, softball, badminton, downhill skiing||Singles tennis, beach volleyball on sand, basketball, soccer, cross-country skiing|
|Home activities||Pushing a power lawn mower, gardening, raking the lawn, moderate housework||Pushing a hand mower, heavy or rapid shoveling (more than 10 pounds per minute), carrying items weighing 25 pounds or more up a flight of stairs|
|Occupational activity||Maid service, waiting tables, feeding or grooming farm animals, manually milking cows, picking fruits or vegetables, walking while carrying a mailbag||Teaching an aerobic dance class, heavy farm work|
Who should see a doctor before becoming physically active?
To design a safe, effective physical activity program, talk with your doctor before becoming physically active if you:
- Have a chronic, or long-term, disease (such as coronary artery disease or diabetes) or have risk factors for a chronic, or long-term, disease (such as coronary artery disease or diabetes) or have risk factors for a chronic disease
- Are older than 50 and plan to do vigorous physical activities
- Are pregnant
How much physical activity do I need?
To reduce the risk of chronic disease, adults should engage in:
- moderate-intensity physical activity for 30 minutes or more on 5 or more days of the week, OR
- vigorous-intensity physical activity for 20 minutes or more on 3 or more days of the week
This physical activity should be in addition to your routine activities of daily living, such as cooking or spending a few minutes walking from the parking lot to your office.
If you are older than 65, you should still engage in regular physical activity. Doing so will:
- help you keep your strength so that you can stay independent
- improve your balance so that you are less likely to fall and break bones
- help prevent or delay some of the diseases linked with aging, such as osteoporosis (OSS-tee-oh-puh-ROHsuhss)
- help prevent constipation
- help you sleep better at night
If you have not been physically active for a long time, you may need to start slowly and then work your way up as you become more fit. For example, if you do not feel up to walking for 30 minutes, try walking for 10 minutes. Then increase your walking time by 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes.
If walking at a speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour is too fast for you, it’s okay to walk at a slower pace. As long as you are breathing hard, it’s considered moderate intensity. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how hard it is for you to talk while being active. If you can talk without any trouble at all, you are not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, you’re working too hard.
- physical activity