How much vigorous physical activity do we need?

Do you wish to be fitter and maintain a healthy weight? Do you want to feel and look more confident? Get active! It is the answer to a more energetic and healthy you. Being more active can also help with weight loss and weight management.

Everyone—from young kids to older adults—can be physically active. All it takes is finding some activities that you enjoy and making them part of your daily routine so that you can clock in enough exercise per week. Doing a little physical activity every day will improve your quality of life.

Why Should I Get Active?

Dumbbells are helpful for strength-training exercises

When you get active, your overall health and wellbeing will improve and you will enjoy a good quality of life. Regular physical activity:

  • Gives you more energy
  • Promotes mental health by reducing stress and anxiety
  • Promotes heart and lung fitness
  • Prevents falls by keeping bones and muscles strong
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevents and controls diabetes

It also reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. It will also make you more confident to face life’s challenges.

Related: 10 Fun Ways to Get Active

What Exactly Is Physical Activity?

Depending on the speed, jogging can be moderate or vigorous intensity activities

Physical activity is simply any activity that gets your body moving. This includes daily activities such as taking the stairs, walking to the supermarket and doing housework. It also includes recreational activities and sports such as jogging, swimming, cycling, brisk walking, ball games, high-intensity interval training, and racket games.

How much exercise do we need? For health benefits, you need to engage in aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activity. Aerobic exercise makes your heart beat faster and makes you breathe harder over a prolonged period of time as the muscles in your body require oxygen to work. This improves your heart and lung (cardiovascular) fitness and your endurance. Brisk walking, jogging and swimming are examples of aerobic activities.

Muscle-strengthening exercises work different major muscle groups in the legs, hip, back, abdomen, shoulders and arms, making your muscles stronger and more resilient. Strengthening muscles and joints can also reduce the risk of injury to your body. Examples of strength-training exercises are doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (e.g. push ups, pull ups, sit-ups and squats), working with resistance bands and weight training.

Muscle-strengthening exercise should include performing 8-10 exercises of all the major muscle groups, consisting of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise.

Related: 4 Ways to Exercise with a Friend

Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity Guidelines

You can use weights for muscle-strengthening a couple of times a week

The national physical activity guidelines recommends that a healthy adult engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity in a week. If your heart rate is at 50 percent to 70 percent of your maximum rate, you are engaging in moderate-intensity exercise.

These 150 minutes of aerobic activity can also be an accumulation of different combinations of periods of exercise throughout the week.

For example, by engaging in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week, you will be able to achieve the recommended 150 minutes a week. Of course, you can also choose to do 60 minutes of physical activity three times a week if you prefer. It’s really up to you to decide! You should also engage in muscle-strengthening activity on two or more days a week.

Related: Healthy Active Ageing

Who Should Get Active?

Jog 30 minutes 5 times a week to clock 150 minutes

The simple answer is—everyone! Research shows that any amount of exercise, at any age, is beneficial. The more physical activity you engage in, the more health benefits that you stand to gain. No one is too old to enjoy the benefits that regular physical activity can bring.

Conditions such as high blood cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure become more prevalent as we grow older. Spending time on physical activity will reap health benefits for adults of all ages.

Physical activity is important for children too. Exercise helps children build healthy bones, muscles, and develop a healthy mind. They will also be able to sleep better at night and are more ready to learn in school if they are physically active.

Related: Exercise Vs. Diet

So How Do I Get Enough Exercise?

Set realistic exercise goals and track using a calendar

If you are just getting started on physical activity, keep your goals simple and realistic. Setting achievable short-term goals will help you stay focused and motivated. And if you have not been physically active, find a physical activity that you enjoy and start small and start slow.

Aim to engage in that physical activity, be it brisk walking or jogging, for 10 minutes a day, three times a week when you are just getting started. For example, you can start by walking to the supermarket, or the MRT instead of taking the feeder bus services. Over time, build up the intensity and duration of your physical activity.

You will soon realise that you are able to make regular physical activity a part of an active lifestyle. You will feel the difference as you gain better health and have more energy to enjoy life. So don’t wait—start getting active today!

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