More physicians are prescribing exercise for their patients. Let’s face it; we can be a sedentary nation. Technology, convenient transportation, and busy schedules (just to name a few) contribute to this lifestyle. Yet, we know that exercise is good for us. Exercise helps decrease health risks such as obesity, hypertension, abnormal lipid profiles and insulin resistance. An individual can prevent and/or delay the development of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus with consistent, regular physical activity.
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the first published guidelines by the government, provide specific recommendations for adults. Keep in mind, children under the age of 18 years need at least one hour of physical activity daily.
These published guidelines for adults are:
Intensity of Exercise Minimum Recommendation Recommendation for Optimal Health
Moderate: 2.5hrs per week 5hrs per week
Vigorous: 1.25hrs per week 2.5hrs per week
*At least 2 days per week, you should include strength training
**Always stretch after the muscles have been warmed up and loosened.
So once you are on the road to exercising, can you get too much? YES. The three components of physical fitness include flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and cardiovascular endurance. Keep these three principles in mind when establishing a exercise regimen.
Excess exercise can lead to injury and possibly stress fractures, especially if your nutritional intake is inadequate. Additionally, recent research suggests that too much exercise, just as too little, can be detrimental to your mental health. The conclusion of this self-reported data was that between 2.5 and 7.5 hours of exercise is key to optimal mental health. Anything less or more may be associated with increased depression and anxiety symptoms.
-Larissa T Brophy, MS, RD, LD