Following The Ideal Exercise Regimen
Let’s face it : most of us are not getting enough physical activity. Unfortunately, a vast majority is either outright “inactive” or at best “insufficiently active “. We need to follow the ideal exercise regimen.
There are those who don’t go beyond making basic movements during their daily- life activities . The US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines places them in the “inactive “ category.
Then there is another group of people who do manage to perform some but not just enough physical activity to add up to a total of 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week . These people are “insufficiently active “.
So , who are the people who we can call “active”?
The” 2018 Guidelines “ give us a clear answer :
While pre- school children, 3-5 years old , should be physically active throughout the day, children & adolescents,6-17 years old, should be doing 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily .
Adults & the Older Adults should engage in moderate physical activity of minimum 150 minutes a week or minimum 75 minutes, in case the activity is of high intensity . The older adults should determine the level of physical activity according to their fitness levels . The keyword for them is to remain as physically active as possible.
How should we go about getting the ideal exercise regimen ?
The three essential components of physical activity are:
- Aerobic or Cardio Activity
- Strength Training or Muscle Strengthening Activity, and
- Flexibility Activity
We should first include these components in our activity plan to convert it into an Ideal Exercise Regimen. We should then make efforts to follow this regimen as closely as possible. Getting physically active will not be so difficult now.
But let us first have a closer look at each component.
Aerobic activity or Cardio activity
This type of activity makes the long muscles of the body move in a rhythm for a sustained period of time. Biking, brisk walking, jogging, running, rope jumping, swimming are just a few examples of aerobic activity.
Muscle Strengthening activity/Strength Training
This activity strengthens the muscles of the back, chest, arms, hips, legs, shoulders and abdomen . Examples of muscle strengthening activity are lifting weights, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, cycling, hill walking, working with resistance bands.
This activity improves the ability of joints to move their full range of motion . Stretching exercises of various types help make the body more flexible .
How will we benefit from these physical activities ?
Each one of the three activities has various good effects on our health. Putting them together to follow a comprehensive physical activity regimen gains additional benefits . Regular physical activity of moderate to high intensity, including Cardio, Strength and Flexibility components leads to better physical fitness.
Aerobic activity or Cardio activity is the center piece of all physical activity .
It plays an important role in reducing the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases like blood pressure, heart attack & stroke. Aerobic activity :
- also reduces the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
- helps maintain a stable weight and greatly reduces the risk of weight gain for those trying to manage their weight.
- improves the cardio respiratory health of people with disabilities.
Regular aerobic activity of moderate intensity reduces blood pressure in hypertension patients.
Other Benefits of Remaining Active
Regular moderate to high intensity physical activity incorporating all components has various other beneficial effects on our health.
According to medical evidence, it lowers the risk of :
- premature death due to all causes & dying due to cardiovascular diseases
- developing high cholesterol
- cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
- dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
- Also lowers the risk of falls (older adults) & fall-related injuries (older adults)
- Reduces anxiety & risk of depression
- Improves : sleep , quality of life
- physical function , bone health
- It also helps prevent putting on weight again after losing it once
What are the 3 Hows of Aerobic/Cardio Activity & Strength Training?
How hard we work to perform the activity determines its Intensity . It may either be moderate or vigorous. How often we do the activity determines its Frequency.
How long we do the activity in one session determines its Duration
Strength Training. How much force or weight we use determines the Intensity of the activity.
Moreover, How often we do it determines the Frequency of the activity. Also, How many times we perform the activity in one session determines the Sets and Repetitions of the activity.
What all should we know about Aerobic/Cardio Activity?
- In Aerobic /Cardio/Endurance activity we move our long muscles. As long as the activity is moderately to vigorously intense ,it doesn’t matter what type it is.
- The total amount of activity in a week is more important than the duration of each session.
- Warming up for 10 minutes before the actual activity with a lower intensity or a slower speed & cooling down after the activity in a similar way are advisable.
- Total Time & Spread Variations.
- Moderate intensity activity totaling 150 minutes a week yields good health benefit.
- Doing it for 300 minutes a week is even more beneficial. Persons remaining active at the 300 minutes/week level are at a lesser risk of developing heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, several cancers and obesity.
- The benefits keep getting better as we keep doing regular Aerobic /Cardio activity beyond the 300 minutes stage. There is no upper limit.
- The activity should preferably be spread over the week . We should do it on three days in a week, at least.
- However, most trainers advice doing Aerobic/Cardio activity 5 days a week, 30 minutes each day.
- We can also split the day’s activity in 3 separate episodes of 10 minutes each, according to our personal preferences.
Moderate versus Vigorous
- The activity should be either moderate or vigorous.
- It takes half the total time to do the vigorous intensity activity , with the same benefits. So, doing it for 75 minutes a week is equivalent of doing moderate-intensity aerobics for 150 minutes a week.
- Likewise , 150 minutes a week of vigorous – intensity aerobic activity will equal 300 minutes of the moderate .
Measuring the intensity
- We can measure the intensity of the exercise by measuring our pulse rate per minute immediately after we finish the Aerobic activity.
- If the pulse rate is between 50-70 percent of our maximum heart rate, we are doing moderate -intensity Cardio activity.
- And if it is between 70-85 percent of the maximum heart rate, we are doing vigorous -intensity Cardio activity.
- To find out about our maximum heart rate we should subtract our age from 220. For example , at age 55, it should be 220-55= 165 beats per minute.
- We can also take the Talk Test to know the intensity of our exercise. We can talk, but not sing if we are doing a moderate intensity activity.
- Also, We can say only a very few words, before pausing for breath , if we are doing a vigorous intensity activity.
Moderate Intensity Activities Examples
- Doubles Tennis
- Ballroom dancing
- Brisk walking @ 2.5 miles per hour or faster
- Cycling on even surface @ less than 10 miles per hour
- Working in the yard
- Water aerobics
Vigorous Intensity Activities Examples
- Jumping rope
- Jogging or Running
- Heavy Work in the Yard
- Cycling faster than 10 miles per hour
- Singles Tennis
- Vigorous dance
- Hiking on a hill
All We Should Know About Strength Training / Muscle Strengthening
- Strength Training, / Muscle Strengthening activities work all major muscle groups of the body i .e the legs, chest, arms, back, abdomen, hips & shoulders .
- The benefits of Strength Training are in addition to the benefits we gain from Aerobic /Cardio activities.
- The good effects of Strength Training are available only when the minimum intensity of the exercise is moderate or higher.
- We should do Strength Training at least two days a week. Taking a day off before the next training session is advisable.
- Muscle Strengthening activity should continue until it becomes difficult to do another repetition. That is where the session ends.
- To enhance muscle strength one set of 8-12 repetitions is the minimum requirement. Doing more sets is more effective.
- Improvements in muscle strength & endurance occur gradually ,as the training progresses.
- Increasing weights results in stronger muscles.
- Only those muscles will improve on which we have worked .
- It is always good to warm up with lighter weights before the actual training
Examples of Strength Training :
- lifting weights
- working with resistance bands
- push-ups, pull-ups, and planks
- carrying heavy loads, and
- heavy gardening
- hand dumbbells
All We Should Know About Flexibility/ Stretching Activities
- Stretching /Flexibility activities form an important part of our Fitness Regimen. Stretching enables the body to perform activities requiring greater flexibility.
- We can do flexibility activity before and /or after the fitness activity. It help us warm up and get ready for the physical activity as well as cool down and recover after the activity. We should :
- avoid stretching cold muscles. Doing some warm up for 5+10 minutes before flexibility activity makes them properly conditioned .
- stretch slowly & shouldn’t stretch to the point of being painful.
- hold each stretch for 10 seconds & for a longer time after some training
- repeat each stretch 3-5 times.
- avoid tensing up.
- do it at least 2-3 days a week.
Examples of Flexibility Activity
- Stretching with Resistance Bands
- Tai chi can boost upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.
- Pilates “ (or the Pilates method) is a series of about 500 exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet. Pilates lengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion. It improves flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness. “
- Yoga, certain types
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