Exercise is known to be an important part of your holistic health strategy, but that doesn’t mean you are required to spend hours in the gym every day, run a marathon, or keep up with Steve in a CrossFit class. That said, the right amount of exercise is guided by a few fitness benchmarks, set by dedicated researchers who work for organizations like the American Heart Association.
Research shows that it is optimal to elevate your heart rate for at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) every week. Before getting overwhelmed, this breaks down to a half an hour five days a week or about 20 minutes every day of the week – that’s not too scary right? Focus on getting the right amount of exercise for your body; even a brisk walk will get your blood pumping. If you sit for hours at a time at your job and often find days go by without much physical activity, join the club: according to the American Heart Association, only 20% of American adults hit this goal.
Now that we know we are in good company, let’s discuss how to get you into that top 20% of health-conscious Americans, working towards living to 100!
Elevating your heart rate is further broken down into two categories: aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise focuses on endurance and utilizes oxygen to create energy. Anaerobic focuses on short spurts of high intensity exercise that primarily uses glucose stores for energy. A combination of both is a recipe for a strong and healthy heart!
Aerobic Exercise: Exercise that uses oxygen as its energy source; longer endurance workouts
Anaerobic Exercise: Exercise that uses glucose as its energy source; short, high-intensity workouts
Remember to go at your own pace; both forms of exercise are not required to be healthy. Also, anaerobic exercise is practiced in short bursts – around 5-7 minutes. Sometimes all you need is one short 5 minute burst of energy and a brisk walk for the rest of the half hour. Do what your body is comfortable with – any amount of challenge is the right amount.
Here are some examples of aerobic and anaerobic exercises from Healthline:
Alright, so we know how much time we should spend exercising each week, the difference between aerobic and anaerobic heart elevation, and we have a good list of exercises to get us started. So now onto our next stop: what are your fitness goals?
Are you trying to bulk up or slim down? Are you looking to finally do 20 pull ups or do you want activity that fits into your lunchbreak? Have you been active your whole life but really want to take it to the next level? Or have you been largely sedentary and looking for that first step? All goals are valid!
Here are a few suggestions for each level:
Armed with your fitness goals, you are now ready get moving. We will leave you with a list of direct health benefits due to the right amount of exercise, curated by The American Heart Association:
This is our goal at Lively Health: to help you live to 100 without chronic disease, one step, squat, pull-up at a time.