body in motion

The human body was created to be in motion. Throughout time, movement was essential for survival, but the conveniences of modern life drastically reduced that dependence. Now we must remind ourselves of the value of motion to our very well-being. The joy of moving our body, whether it be a simple stretch, deep breath or a Spartan race, should not be outweighed by a sense of something that must be endured. The key is to find something that you enjoy as opposed to a dreaded task.

The benefits of physical activity have been connected to every aspect of our health, from our brain to our bone density. Exercise has been shown to:

  • reduce stress
  • improve sleep
  • prevent cognitive decline
  • alleviate anxiety
  • boost memory and ability to learn new things
  • enable neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells)
  • improve productivity and creativity
  • increase strength and flexibility
  • increase bone density
  • reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer
  • increase longevity

 

  • In 2011, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky and a team studied mice with a terrible genetic disease that caused them to age prematurely. Over the course of five months, half of the mice were sedentary. The other half were coaxed to run three times a week on a miniature treadmill.
  • By the end of the study, the sedentary mice were barely hanging on. The fur that had yet to fall out had grown coarse and gray, muscles shriveled, hearts weakened, skin thinned–even the mice’s hearing got worse. “They were shivering in the corner, about to die,” Tarnopolsky says.
  • But the group of mice that exercised, genetically compromised though they were, were nearly indistinguishable from healthy mice. Their coats were sleek and black, they ran around their cages, they could even reproduce. “We almost completely prevented the premature aging in the animals,” Tarnopolsky says.

TIME Health, The New Science of Exercise, Mandy Oaklander, Sep 12, 2016

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Recommendations

Age Recommendations
6 to 17 years Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.

  • Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate-a– or vigorous-intensityb aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.
  • Muscle-strengthening:c As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
  • Bone-strengthening:d As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
  • It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.
18 to 64 years
  • All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
65 years and older
  • Older adults should follow the adult guidelines. When older adults cannot meet the adult guidelines, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions will allow.
  • Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.
  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.

a Moderate-intensity physical activity: Aerobic activity that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing to some extent. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, moderate-intensity activity is usually a 5 or 6 on a 0 to 10 scale. Brisk walking, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on a level terrain are examples.

b Vigorous-intensity physical activity: Aerobic activity that greatly increases a person’s heart rate and breathing. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, vigorous-intensity activity is usually a 7 or 8 on a 0 to 10 scale. Jogging, singles tennis, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill are examples.

c Muscle-strengthening activity: Physical activity, including exercise that increases skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance, and mass. It includes strength training, resistance training, and muscular strength and endurance exercises.

d Bone-strengthening activity: Physical activity that produces an impact or tension force on bones, which promotes bone growth and strength. Running, jumping rope, and lifting weights are examples.

Source: Adapted from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2008. Available at: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines. Accessed August 6, 2015.

%

percent of adults who met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity

%

percent of adults who met the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity

 

strength training:

anything that requires resistance

  • weight training
  • bands
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • tai chi
  • qi gong

 

 

 

 

aerobic activity:

anything that increase heart rate and respiration

 

  • spin class
  • swimming
  • sports
  • biking
  • running
  • walking
  • gardening
  • cleaning