Stress eating on the couch while binge-watching Netflix has added unwanted pounds to nearly half of Americans since the start of the pandemic. The best way to whittle away those inches? Get up and move! Even if you can squeeze in several minutes of moderate physical activity every day, you’ll do yourself a favor. Activity can help improve your overall health and help reduce your risk for many chronic diseases.
Just how much time do you really need to spend in motion? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Or try a combination of the two. If the aim is to lose weight, maintain weight, or meet specific fitness goals, you may need more exercise. Increasing your activity to 300 minutes or more a week can deliver additional health benefits.
Spread Exercise Over the Week
Health experts recommend spreading your physical activity out over several days during the week. That’s better than trying to squeeze it all in one or two days.
If you don’t have a block of time to devote to a daily 30-minute walk, try splitting it up into segments of at least 5 or 10 minutes. Any activity is better than none at all.
Sitting for long periods of time can also negatively impact your health and longevity, even if you get the recommended amount of daily physical activity. Your risk of metabolic problems goes up the more hours you sit each day.
Is It Moderate or Vigorous?
Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, swimming, and mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running and aerobic dancing.
Add on Strength Training
In addition to aerobic activity, the U.S. Department of Health recommends you do strength training exercises at least twice each week. Keeping yourself muscles strong is important for full body health. Strength training can include weight machines, your own body weight, exercise bands, or resistance paddles in the water. Lifting weights, doing sit-ups and push-ups, and even rock climbing are also good strength-training moves. Aim to work all the different major muscle groups of the body – your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Do a single set of each exercise using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 8 to 15 repetitions.
Check With Your Doctor
Pregnant women, older adults, and people with special health needs should check with their health care provider on what types of activities they should do. Your doctor can advise you how much physical activity you should be getting.