HHS Exercise Recommendation: The Fundamentals
Physical activity is one of the most important things a person can do to stay healthy. It has been proven that regular exercise and movement has many short and long term benefits, including the delay of the negative aspects of aging and the prevention of chronic illnesses. Many people participate in fitness routines that ensure the best overall quality of exercise. Before starting any type of program, you should know the fundamentals of physical activity, why it is important, and how much of it is recommended.
HHS and Physical Activity
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a series of guidelines to inform people about the benefits of being active. Various statistics and programs are outlined in the report, as well as the specific information detailing the necessity for physical activity and exercise. If more people are aware of the risks associated with inactivity, it could lead to an increase in fitness participation.
Form, Consistency, and Intensity
A main fundamental of physical activity that the HHS emphasizes is consistency. No matter what form of exercise you are doing, it must be done on a regular basis. Without the consistent movement, you will not receive the maximum effects of physical activity. Slightly reducing the amount of exercise could still provide similar benefits, especially if the same intensity is applied. Performing each movement correctly is another area that the HHS discusses. The risk of injury and disorders rises substantially when improper form is used. Overtraining or excessive activity can have the same consequences. It is imperative that muscles and joints are allowed to rest adequately in between exercise sessions in order to fully heal and recover.
Besides the boost in energy and a better outlook on life, physical fitness is an excellent cardiovascular activity. Here is what the HHS has released on their website about aerobic exercise: "The beneficial effects of endurance-type activity (aerobic exercise) to health and functional capacity have been studied the most. For endurance exercise to be beneficial, the intensity of the exercise in a healthy person needs to be at least 50%, preferably 60%, of the maximal aerobic power (maximal oxygen consumption, VO2 max). This means that the person's heart rate during exercise should be approximately 60% to 75% of his/her maximum heart rate." Looking at the above statement, it is clear that aerobic exercise is recommended for maintaining a healthy heart and lungs. Examples of some quality forms of endurance building exercises are walking, bicycle riding, swimming, and cross-country skiing. The HHS clarified the definition of cardio by stating that, "To improve cardiovascular fitness (energy metabolism and circulation), physical activity needs to include rhythmic movements of the large muscle groups which should be sustained for a considerable length of time (usually several tens of minutes)."
In 1996, the HHS researched the ways that physical activity can prevent certain diseases or conditions. According to their findings, "Physical activity plays a significant role in the prevention of coronary heart disease and other atherosclerotic diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures, as well as some types of cancer (colon cancer and possibly also breast cancer)." Other minor illnesses might also be prevented by exercising.
Currently, the recommended amount of physical activity is 30 to 45 minutes per day for at least four to five days each week. Weight loss could require more frequent activity while existing injuries or limited mobility might require less. Check with your doctor to design a fitness program that is right for your individual situation.