Overall, Americans (really most populations in the world) are not getting enough exercise to remain healthy. There are a lot of reasons for this, but for today we are going to focus on just how much exercise the average person should get per week.
The American Heart Association recommends:
Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
Okay, I get that they want this to be accessible to everyone but I think we can do better. Let’s consider some facts in the US regarding our health:
The US is drowning in chronic, largely preventable, diseases like heart disease and type-2 diabetes mellitus
70% of all deaths are caused by chronic diseases
17.7% of the GDP is spent on managing chronic diseases
Equal to $3 trillion ($10,000 per person)
So we have a health problem and the AHA has some recommendations for physical activity. Why aren’t we listening to their advice? If we are listening, why isn’t it working?
We need to 1) improve our recommendations to be more specific and 2) get out there and be more effective in getting people moving.
Here are some of my own updates to the AHA recommendation that you should consider to fight chronic disease:
Get a minimum of 300 minutes per week of exercise (must be outside of work time).
150 hours should be moderate intensity (50-70% max HR or 1RM) and 150 hours should be high intensity (> 70% max HR or 1RM).
Go on walks frequently, but do not include this as your exercise time unless speed walking to spike your heart rate to the above mentioned levels.
Include a variation of aerobic exercises and strength training in as many ways as possible.
Focus on functional movements, but add accessory movements to aid in your development.
Surround yourself with others who are physically active.
Encourage others to be active, join your group, and to make healthy choices.
Seek professional advice to make sure you are exercising safely and effectively.
We need to work together and fight chronic diseases. We should not accept the fate of being sedentary, spending tens of thousands on healthcare, having a lower quality of life, and dying at a younger age.
Get out there and move. Move well and move often. Exercise at higher intensities. Encourage others to do the same.
Corey Hall, PT, DPT