How much exercise do I need to be healthy?
New Year’s Resolution… Get Fit!
But how to do it safely and avoid injury?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that in order to maintain health (not necessarily improve it or build your fitness) one must do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week. That’s at least 30 minutes on 5 days per week. To increase physical fitness it is 300 minutes per week. Thats anywhere between 2.5 and 5 hours of exercise per week.
So what now? I have signed up to a gym membership. I made a New Years resolution to get fit. But I am mainly a “weekend warrior”. I am busy at work during the week. Can I maintain the minimum 150 minutes a week? Is there another way? Yes there is.
A recent study published in JAMA Internal medicine in 2017, showed that “weekend warriors” who did not exercise during the week, but did most of their exercise on the weekends, had the almost the same benefit of those who exercises throughout the week.
Compared to inactive individuals, weekend warriors had a 30 % lower risk of death overall, a 40% lower risk of cardiovascualr disease and 18% lower risk of dying from cancer.
So what does that mean. It means that, as long as you fit in the recommended exercise in the week, even if it is on the weekend only, you will still reap the benefits.
How much exercise should a person do to have benefit?
People ages 19-64 should attempt to do:
at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as fast walking, jogging, cycling and strength resistance exercises with weights on two or more days a week to work major muscle groups.
75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running, or a game of singles tennis every week and strength exercises on two or more days a week as above.
a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise every week, such as interval training, 30 minute runs plus a 30 minute walk and strength exercises on two or more days a week as above.
As physios, we recognise that starting a new exercise program can present with a risk of contracting aches and pains. So we’ve got some simple tips to help you prevent getting injured.
Tips for exercising safely and avoiding injury:
1. Warm up properly and don’t forget to cool down – to begin, your warm up should entail some gentle cardio exercise to get your heart rate up and the blood flowing to your muscles. For example, a brisk walk or a light jog until you break a sweat, starting slowly and gradually building the intensity. After 5-10 minutes, start some exercises specific to the intended activity. For example, a basketballer could do some passing, dribbling and shooting. Finally in the warm up, dynamic stretches should also be included in order to prepare the muscles, tendons and joints for full range of movement throughout the activity. Similar to warming up, cooling down after exercise is important to assist the body in returning to its normal state. This may entail 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardio exercise, followed by some static stretches to ensure muscle length is maintained. Physiotherapists can assist in showing you the right technique for your stretches.
2. Wear the correct gear – appropriately fitted protective gear that also meets safety standards will help to prevent injury. This may include; headgear, mouthguard, shin pads and/or goggles, depending on the activity or sport. Well fitted shoes are equally, if not more important. Old or worn out shoes can lead to overuse injuries such as shin splints or tendinopathies.
3. Gradual progression – start slowly! If your body is not used to this particular type of exercise, it’s crucial to introduce it slowly to prevent injuries like muscle strains. When starting a new activity, you are more prone to suffer from DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness – muscle soreness that is usually worse 2 days post exercise). Don’t worry, it is completely benign, usually disappears within a few days, and the more you continue doing this type of activity, the less you’ll get it. So don’t give up! Also, utilise the principle of gradual progression – in terms of the amount of time spent in the activity, the frequency (number of days per week) and the load/resistance lifted or moved. 5-10% increase per 1-2 weeks is usually appropriate. A physiotherapist can show you how to do this safely.
4. Rest – when undertaking a new exercise, soft tissues used go through periods of breakdown and repair. It is vital that to give your muscles a chance to repair by having at least 48 hours between exercising that same muscle group. Furthermore, resting between sets of exercises will help the muscles prepare for the next set. We are much more likely to injure ourselves when fatigued. So for example, you may perform 3 sets of biceps curls. Make sure to have at least 1 minute of rest between each set, and 2 days before repeating the biceps curls again. This is not to say you can’t work out other muscle groups in between!
5. Cross train and maintain variety – listen to your body. If you are getting little aches and pains, either take a day off, train at a much lower intensity, or try something a little different to give your body a break and a chance to recover. Completing repetitive movements over and over, such as with running or cycling can lead to overuse injuries if no other muscle groups are used.
6. Re-hydrate and replenish with nutritious food – a healthy, balanced diet will keep you training at the intensity you wish and will assist in muscle repair. Conversely, poor nutrition can lead to low energy levels and muscle weakness. Hydration before, during and after exercise is also vital for flushing out toxins and replacing lost fluids.
At Lane Cove Physio, our physiotherapists are qualified to design individualised exercise programs suitable for any athletic level – from the complete beginner to a seasoned sportsperson. We can also monitor your exercise technique and assist you in progressing your program safely.
For a head start to getting fit in 2017, give us a call on 94285772 to make your first appointment.