According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, "It is estimated that MORE THAN 75% of the American adult population does NOT engage in at least 30 minutes of low-to-moderate physical activity on most days of the week."
Wow. This is saying that, at most, only one out of every four American adults make the time to exercise regularly for a half an hour--the length of a sitcom. And we're just talking gentle exercise, such as brisk walking, not high intensity training.
Furthermore, "the risk of chronic disease INCREASES DRAMATICALLY in those individuals who are physically inactive or only meet the minimal standard of physical activity."
Chronic diseases include:
But beyond issues of chronic disease, research has confirmed that "an individual's cardiorespiratory fitness level is one of the strongest predictors of morbidity and mortality." In other words, your engagement in regular, sustained physical activity over your lifetime is "one of the most reliable predictors of death...Conversely, an improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness is related to a reduction in premature death from all causes." That's either REALLY positive news if you're an avid exerciser, or REALLY scary if you haven't made physical activity a part of your daily life.
I'm sure most readers can rattle off a few benefits of regular cardiorespiratory exercise, but let's review this comprehensive list in the hopes that it may provide additional motivation. And by the way, NASM points out that, "these benefits ACCRUE as a result of the numerous physiologic adaptations to cardiorespiratory training," which means it's never too late to start moving!
BENEFITS OF CARDIORESPIRATORY EXERCISE:
Could you use improvements in any of these areas? Silly question, right?!
So where do we go from here? If you're one of my beloved sedentary readers who can't recall the last time you became winded on purpose, how about starting with a 10 to 20 minute walk today. Move with a purposeful, steady pace, as if you were running late for an appointment. Continue that practice most days of the week, adding on time as your fitness improves. Once you've done that for at least one month, send me a message and I'll help you with next steps to continue your progress.
If you already walk or exercise regularly at a low-to-moderate level, it's time to kick it up a notch. Why? Because "low-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise will typically result in some improvements in health and well-being, but not necessarily any significant improvements in fitness as compared with higher training intensities." Incorporate intervals of faster paced movement with slower recovery periods, and perform strength training exercises (just use body weight to start). If you are inexperienced with resistance training, I highly recommend seeking assistance from a fitness expert who can assess your movement patterns to ensure that you execute exercises safely and correctly, and help you form a plan.
For those who are fearful of starting an exercise program due to past injury, a health issue, being deconditioned or some other negative experience, first seek the guidance of a medical professional to rule out any issues. Once you're cleared, keep this in mind: "Although there are risks associated with physical activity and exercise, primarily musculoskeletal injuries, the benefits of physical activity clearly outweigh the risks."
- Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition Revised
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which are based on scientific evidence, recommend adults engage in 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity (30 minutes 5 times a week) to help improved their overall health and fitness and reduce their risk for developing numerous chronic diseases. The guidelines also recommend that if adults exceed 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, then they will gain even more health benefits. Exercise sessions may also be broken up into shorter increments, for example 10 minutes at a time, until 150 minutes per week is met.
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.