Physical fitness is not just one of the most important keys to a healthy body. It is the basis of dynamic and creative activity.
—John F. Kennedy
Remember how good it felt the last time you went hiking and you reached the top of the mountain or your other destination? Perhaps it wasn’t a hike, but a ball game, a 5K event, or a dance class. No matter what form it comes in, physical fitness allows us to experience some of the greatest natural joys in life; it offers a natural high at little cost. When we lose our fitness, strength, and flexibility we lose a significant part of the joy of and increase our risk for a wide range of diseases.
What’s the Bottom Line? Exercise is medicine! Our bodies were made to move throughout our day. Don’t expect to maintain your desired weight by diet alone even with a low calorie diet and/or gastric surgery! Don’t expect walking ten thousand steps a day to be your only means of fitness.
Our goal is to maintain physical fitness, strength, and agility throughout our lifetime so we can continually have the energy and ability to do what we want to do when we want to do it. Recommendations (outlined below) suggest we need to get our heart rates up to at least 50 percent of our maximum for a minimum of 150 minutes a week (ideally 300 minutes, or an hour five times a week) and do strength or resistance training, stretching and functional training/stability at least two times a week EACH.
Activities to help you overcome obstacles to exercise and meet your fitness goals
- Activity 13.0 Fitness Resources and Considerations
- Activity 13.1 Overall Fitness Assessment
- Activity 13.2 Four-week Fitness Plan
- Activity 13.3 Presidential Fitness Test for Adults
Related Blog Posts
Fitness tip #1. Reduce your sitting
Recommendations for Physical Activity
The American College of Sports Medicine’s 2011 Recommendations on the quantity and quality of exercise outlines four different categories of physical activity that every person should do over the course of a week.
Cardiorespiratory Exercise (pertaining to the heart and lungs)
- 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 ten minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
- Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency, and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
- People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.
- Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
- Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
- Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
- For each exercise, eight to twelve repetitions improve strength and power, ten to fifteen repetitions improve strength in middle-aged persons and older persons starting exercise, and fifteen to twenty repetitions improve muscular endurance.
- Adults should wait at least forty-eight hours between resistance training sessions.
- Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
- Each stretch should be held for ten to thirty seconds, to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
- Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating sixty seconds per stretch.
- All types of stretching are effective.
- 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 (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week, twenty to thirty minutes per day.
- Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination, and gait), proprioceptive exercise training (including doing exercises while balancing on one foot, or other stability exercises), and multifaceted activities (tai chi and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
- Pedometers—step-counting devices, such as Fitbits, used to measure physical activity—are not an accurate measure of exercise quality or fitness and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity.
- Though exercise protects against heart disease, it is still possible for active adults to develop heart problems. All adults must be able to recognize the warning signs of heart disease, and all health care providers should ask patients about these symptoms.
- 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.
- As we age, most of us need either training, a gym, or guided exercises to be able to do all the types of movement that are recommended during a week.
 “‘Sitting disease’ by the numbers,” Ergotron, 2015, retrieved on June 3, 2016, from http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/language/en-US/default.aspx; for research see http://www.juststand.org/tabid/636/language/en-US/default.aspx.
 J. A. Levine, “Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do about It” (video), interview of Dr. James Levine by Dr. Mercola, 2014, retrieved on June 3, 2016, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/28/dangers-prolonged-sitting.aspx.
 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, “Working in a Standing Position—Basic Information,” Retrieved on June 3, 2016, from http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/standing/standing_basic.html.
 For more on proprioceptive exercise training see O. Anderson, “Proprioceptive Training and Injury Prevention,” 2014, retrieved on June 3, 2016, from http://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/archive/proprioceptive-exercises.html#