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Recommendations for Physical Activity and Exercise

Cardiorespiratory Exercise

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

  • Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).

  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.

  • Gradually increase time, frequency and intensity of exercise to avoid injury.

  • If you are unable to meet these minimums, start slow and work up to them. You can still benefit from some activity.

  • Pedometers, step-counting devices used to measure physical activity, are not an accurate measure of exercise quality and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity.

  • Sedentary behavior – sitting for long periods of time – is distinct from physical activity and has been shown to be a health risk in itself. Meeting the guidelines for physical activity does not make up for a sedentary lifestyle. Stay active and take activity breaks if you sit for prolonged periods.

Resistance Exercise

  • Adults should train each major muscle group two to three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.

  • Very light or light intensity is best for elderly persons or previously sedentary adults starting to exercise.

  • For each exercise, complete 10-12 repetitions to improve strength or to focus more on endurance, complete 15-20 repetitions.

  • Complete two to four sets of each exercise to improve strength and power.

  • Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions for a particular muscle group.

Flexibility Exercise

  • Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.

  • Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.

  • Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.

  • Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.

Neuromotor Exercise

  • Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.

  • Exercises that improve balance, agility, coordination and gait as well as Tai Chi and yoga improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.

  • 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.

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