CDC Guidelines for Fitness

If you want to improve your physical fitness but don’t know where to start, rest easy. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a set of guidelines meant to lay things out clearly and simply, giving you the chance to find a starting place. From there, you can increase your physical activity and create a plan that gets you healthy at a reasonable pace.

The website has a few different resources to help you on your journey to full body health. There is a very motivating list of the reasons why you should be more physically active. Some of those reasons include the more common ones, such as maintaining and losing weight, or stronger bones and muscles. These are the first reasons that come to mind when people consider beginning an exercise program.

Other reasons to exercise are because of benefits to your cardiovascular health, and because it also lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes. Physical exercise also reduces your risk of some cancers and increases your chances of living longer.

The CDC encourages people to look at physical exercise as a long term lifestyle change instead of a short term diet program. If you want to lose weight and maintain that weight loss, you have to change your eating habits and exercise. It’s as simple as calories; if you want to lose weight, you have to burn more than you eat.

In order to determine what exercise level you need, simply go to the CDC website and choose the category you fall under. There are three. Children (age 6-17), Adults (age 18-64) and Older Adults (65+). Here’s a brief overview of the guidelines of physical activity for each of the categories.

● Children: 60 minutes per day of exercise.
○ Aerobic activity: This type of activity should account for most of your child’s daily exercise. Both moderate (ie; brisk walking) and vigorous intensity (running or sports) aerobics are necessary to keep your child healthy. Three days a week at least should be vigorous intensity.
○ Muscle strengthening: At least three days per week should include some muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics, pushups or sit ups.
○ Bone strengthening: Skipping, hopping, running etc., will all strengthen your bones. Many of the activities you do to strengthen your muscles will also strengthen bones.
● Adults and Older Adults:,
○ Aerobic activity: Adults should have either 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio activities every week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. If you want to go to the next level, do 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 150 minute of vigorous intensity. You can combine some of each intensity to provide variety to your workout.
○ Muscle strengthening: You should do exercises that work your major muscle groups at least two days per week.

You’d be surprised what kind of activities you do on a daily basis that count as exercise. Playing a game of tag with your kids, going for a bike ride around the neighborhood or mowing the lawn are all forms of moderate aerobic exercise. Shoveling snow, planting trees or running are simple vigorous exercises.

As a rule of thumb, 1 minute of vigorous exercise is worth 2 minutes of moderate exercise. Check out the CDC’s guidelines for physical activity and get started on your health today!

Photo credit: Artur Potosi / Foter / CC BY

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