A Closer Look Regular physical activity, exercise, is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
The benefits start immediately, improve with continued use, and are available 24/7 – 365 from head to toe. The cost: 30 minutes each day.
• 30 minute daily minimum of moderate-intensity aerobic activities for adults; 1 hour per day for children.
• Activity can be done in 10 minute segments throughout the day. What is aerobic activity?
• Aerobic activity or “cardio” causes the heart to beat harder and faster, and increases the rate of breathing.
• Intensity is an indicator of how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
For most people, light daily activities such as shopping, cooking, or doing the laundry are not included in the 30 minutes/ day because the body isn’t working hard enough to increase the heart rate.
How is intensity measured? Intensity level can be measured by the talk test. During moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing. At vigorous-intensity level breathing becomes hard and fast, and the heart rate has increased significantly. You won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
To increase to a vigorous intensity, slowly replace moderate intensity activities with more vigorous activities. A scientific measure of the Intensity of activity is measured in METs (metabolic equivalent tasks). One MET is the energy used at rest (sitting quietly). Two METs indicates the energy used is twice that at rest. Three METs is triple the resting energy used, etc.
Thus, the METs per hour score is a measure of the intensity of a physical activity.
Activities are measured in METs /hour. For example, walking at a pace of 2 miles per hour (easy casual walking) uses 2 METs per hour. If you walk at this pace for 30 minutes, you have used only 1 MET- this is no different than sitting quietly. However; walking at a pace of 5 miles per hour uses 8 METs per hour. Walking at this pace for 30 minutes uses 4 METs. 12 MET hours per week of activity will result in health benefit. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means the activity will raise the heart rate and cause the individual to sweat. Moderate intensity activities include:
• Walking fast 3 miles per hour (3.3 METs);
• Water aerobics (4 METs); • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills(4METs);
• Playing doubles tennis (5 METs); • Pushing a lawn mower(5METs);
• General gardening (4 METs); • Ballroom dancing (3METs). Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include:
• Jogging (7METs), race walking (6 METs);
• Swimming laps freestyle, vigorously(10METs);
• Riding a bike fast (10 miles per hour or faster) or on hills (10 METs);
• Playing singles tennis (8 METs); • Playing basketball game (8 METs), gardening (digging, spreading, or filling) (5 METs);
• Jumping rope (fast) (12METs);
• Aerobic dancing (6.5 METs).
Moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic levels can be mixed in the same activity. Generally, when measuring health benefit, 1minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activities. Health benefits of regular exercise.
• Improve/maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels;
• Increase good (HDL) cholesterol;
• Improve circulation;
• Increase strength and function of heart muscle. Type 2 diabetes:
• Improve/maintain blood sugar levels; reducing the risk of developing type 2, and improving blood sugar control in individuals who already have type 2 diabetes. Musculoskeletal function:
• Increased strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, tone, stamina, decreased risk of falls, decreased pain and stiffness of arthritis. • Increased bone strength, reduced risk of osteoporosis, improved symptoms of arthritis and back pain, reduced risk of hip fracture. Gastro intestinal:
• Improved hunger and appetite awareness, digestion, and regularity of bowel movements.
• Improved weight management. Mental Health and Mood:
• Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, judgment, and mental focus skills sharp as you age.
• Improved ability to manage stress; exercise also helps with depression;
• Improves quality of sleep. Immune system:
• Improved immune system function. Sexual function:
• Improved sexual drive. Some cancers (colon and breast):
• If you are a cancer survivor, research shows that getting regular physical activity not only helps give you a better quality of life, but also improves your physical fitness. Longer life:
• Individuals who exercise at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week at moderate-intensity aerobic activity lowers their risk of dying early.
• Individuals who are physically active for about 420 minutes (7 hours) a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.
Take Home Message Give yourself 30 minutes a day as a gift of health.
Editorial Comment Make physical activity a lifelong daily habit, just like brushing your teeth!
• Find activities you enjoy;
• Incorporate different activities for variety, and to increase aerobic capacity, overall strength and flexibility.
• Simply walking works: a gym or health club membership is not needed.
• Increase activity and intensity level gradually: health benefits will increase with up to 60 minutes per day of moderate to intense activity levels. • Add strength or weight lifting activities to further improve bone and muscle strength.
• Always s-t-r-e-t-c-h muscles before and after activity to properly warm up and cool down muscles. Visit MSU Moves at msumoves.msu.edu complete a registration profile and start a personal challenge.