All of us have faced obstacles to exercising, be it a lack of motivation, a busy schedule, or an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. Exercising is different for everyone and we all may have different ways of fulfilling our responsibility toward fitness. But how much exercise in a week is actually beneficial?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released updated guidelines with regard to how much physical activity you should do in a week, reports Eat Well.
The guidelines have been released for people of all ages and the WHO has reportedly emphasized the fact that any activity is better than none!
In an earlier report published in USA Today, the WHO is reported to have said that four million to 5 million deaths a year would be averted if people were more active.
Also, according to the WHO, physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy to be spent. Therefore, physical activity refers to all movements including the movements one does during leisure time. Both moderate-and vigorous-intensity physical activity is said to improve health.
“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being – it can help to add years to life and life to years,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reportedly told USA Today.
Popular ways to be physically active include walking, cycling, any sport, active recreation, play, etc. This can be done at any skill level for enjoyment by all.
The guidelines for how many times a week you should work out are based on your age and health conditions.
For adults aged 18-64, the WHO has stressed the importance of exercise, especially to combat any sedentary movement, and especially for those who sit all day for work. The WHO has reportedly suggested at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week (a combination of the two is also recommended). These exercises could include a brisk walk, running, or cycling.
If possible, it is also recommended to include two days of muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights. In case you find these recommendations overwhelming in the beginning, the WHO advises to “start by doing small amounts of physical activity, and gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and duration over time.”
For those aged 65 and above, the same frequency and intensity of workouts are suggested as the younger adults, but with one addition. Older adults are advised to include balance and strength training three days a week at least. These exercises could either be dancing or yoga. The WHO has stressed the importance of exercise for this age group saying it will help “prevent falls or falls-related injuries and declines in bone health and functional ability.” The same guidelines also apply to those adults (18 and above) who are living with chronic conditions or any disability.
For pregnant and postpartum women, the WHO has advised a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity for the week. However, pregnant women are also advised to consult their doctors before initiating any exercise program. Avoiding exercise in extreme heat conditions, staying hydrated before, during, and after exercise, and avoiding activities that involve a high risk of falling are also recommended by the WHO. Additionally, activities that affect oxygen or involve lying flat on the back (after the first trimester) should be avoided as well, state the WHO.
For children and adolescents between 5-17, a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day is recommended. It is suggested that the exercise should consist of moderate-to vigorous-intensity activity and that three of those days should also include exercises that strengthen the muscles and bones. The same guidelines are also recommended for children living with a disability, with some kind of modification.
It’s important to remember that exercise for children needs to be fun and playful, advise WHO.
The key to regular workouts is to start small, build your activity level gradually, and have fun! So, whether you decide to take a walk around the block, try out an online yoga video, pull weeds in your garden, or have a dance workout session in your living room, just ensure you engage in the exercises you enjoy, as this will motivate you to stick to it!