A single exercise session that ups your heart rate can lower blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce anxiety and improve insulin sensitivity on the day you do it.
The big benefits such as lowering your risk of many chronic diseases and cancers start adding up within days or weeks of starting regular physical activity. The current guidelines are:
- Move more, sit less. Some physical activity is better than none.
- Spread aerobic activity through the week. Aim for at least 2.5 -5 hours of moderate intensity or 1.25 – 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity.
- Strength train at least twice a week. Your bones, joints and muscles need love!
- Add balance training as you get older. Yoga, tai chi and other activities help prevent falls.
- Anyone with chronic conditions should be as physically active as
their abilities and conditions allow.
- Pregnant? Stay moderately active, per your doctor’s advice.
What’s moderate vs. what’s vigorous? Per the guidelines, moderate activity means you’re breathing hard and can hold a conversation, but you can’t sing. (OK, some of us can’t sing no matter what.) “Vigorous” means you can’t get more than a couple of words out without a breath.
Exercise with others and live longer! A recent Mayo Clinic study of more than 8500 participants found that playing team and partner sports added years to their lives vs exercising alone:
- Tennis: +9.7 yrs
- Badminton +6.2 yrs (I am not making this up)
- Soccer +4.7 yrs
- Jogging +3.2 yrs
- Gym +1.5 yrs
- Group exercise classes or clubs also boost longevity