Despite medical literature demonstrating the beneficial effects of physical activity on several health outcomes including cardiovascular disease and mortality, physical inactivity continues to be a major health concern worldwide. Although there are risks associated with exercise in some individuals, the benefits outweigh the risks in most of the population.
According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Literature also concludes that's it is beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least two days per week.
What are the benefits?
Being active for at least 150 minutes per week can help reduce the risk of:
- Premature death
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Certain types of cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Overweight and obesity
Benefits also include improved:
- Mental health
What does moderate/vigorous intensity mean?
Moderate-intensity physical activity will cause adults to sweat a little and to breathe harder. Examples include:
- Brisk walking
- Bike riding
- Playing volleyball
- Washing windows or floors
Vigorous-intensity physical activities will cause adults to sweat and be 'out of breath'. Examples include:
- Stair walking
- Shoveling snow
- Playing basketball
- Swimming laps
- Water aerobics
- Cross-country skiing
There is not one exercise prescription for all individuals; however, the above-mentioned guidelines are ideal for most people. Research shows that sedentary lifestyles are associated with health risks and even modest increases in physical activity are associated with improved health outcomes. Therefore, even if the specific goals above are not met, any increase in physical activity level can be beneficial. If you are unsure whether you should be exercising or not make sure to talk to your health care provider prior to initiating an exercise program or regime.
Submitted by Kathleen Hall, Registered Nurse at Daramola Medical Clinic