Physical Activity – How Much is Enough? By Russell Alterman, D.O.
In our busy lives we try to balance work and play. The more complexity we build into our lives, the greater is the need to play. Anything that gets your body moving is physical activity, but jogging to catch the elevator is not exercise- it’s actually just the opposite. Sudden acceleration of our heart and breathing rates for just a few seconds is counterproductive and can actually harm the less-physically fit person.
Let’s talk briefly about what the word CARDIO means and how this phrase relates to physical activity. Cardio means aerobic activity and this means getting your heart beating faster and your breathing gets harder. TEN MINUTES IS THE MINIMUM beneficial timeframe to take your body into the aerobic phase. Mowing your lawn, biking around your neighborhood, or even a ten minute exercise video in front of your television are all excellent forms of aerobic activity – if sustained for the FULL TEN MINUTES.
Another important concept for fitness is INTENSITY: how hard you push yourself – LIGHT, MODERATE, or VIGOROUS. Unfortunately, cooking, shopping and laundry are activities of daily living (ADLs) and do not qualify for aerobic activity. However, if you can keep up a pace of exercise as mentioned above for ten minutes which gets your heart pumping and you break a sweat, you have accomplished this small goal. Some experts have even given a simple guideline: in light to moderate activity you should be able to talk but not have enough breath to sing the words to your favorite song. In vigorous activity, you might be able to get a few words out between rapid breaths.
MODERATE-INTENSITY AEROBIC ACTIVITY EXAMPLES
- Walking Fast (not race-walking)
- Water Aerobics
- Bike Riding on Level Ground or a Few Hills
- Ballroom Dancing
- Pushing a Lawn Mower
- Playing Doubles Tennis
VIGOROUS-INTENSITY AEROBIC ACTIVITY EXAMPLES
- Swimming Laps
- Jogging or Running
- Fast Biking or Mountain Biking
- Singles Tennis
- Shooting Hoops
Rule of Thumb: 2:1 Two minutes of moderate activity equals one minute of vigorous activity. Many of us might consider whether we are healthy enough to even begin an exercise program. I would recommend scheduling a physical exam before you get going to affirm your healthy heart!
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.