How Much Exercise is Enough?
Most of us live a sedentary life, stuck working at a desk, sitting for more hours than any human being should. Our work and personal lives demand almost every waking minute to be scheduled. All of that leads us to a very common question: How much exercise is enough?
In June 2011 the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) responded with updated recommendations for the type and amount of exercise individuals should get each week. This replaces their recommendation from 1998. They recommend four types of exercise: cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor.
The ACSM recommends at three different options for cardiorespiratory exercise:
-Moderate-intensity (3-6 MET/min): at least 30 minutes at least 5 days each week (more than 150 minutes per week)
-Vigorous-intensity (>6 MET/min): at least 20 minutes at least 3 days each week (more than 75 minutes per week)
-Combined moderate- and vigorous-intensity expending more than 500-1000 MET per week
To help translate that recommendation a MET is a metabolic equivalent task; something that expends the same amount of energy. It helps ranks the intensity of various forms of exercise.
In addition to cardiorespiratory exercise the ACSM recommends that adults should perform resistance training. This type of training should include each of the major muscles groups and be performed 2 or 3 times every week.
To maintain joint mobility and range of motion the ACSM recommends that flexibility exercises be performed for each major muscle-tendon group. They recommend that each exercise be performed for a full minute at least two days per week.
To increase (or maintain) balance, agility, and coordination the ACSM recommends some form of neuromotor exercise, or functional fitness, 2 or 3 times per week. Examples of neuromotor exercises include yoga, tai chi, qi gong.
Thanks to the ACSM we can now answer the question, "How much exercise is enough?".
Their response goes beyond their last recommendation from thirteen years ago to include more detail on the type and quantity of cardiorespiratory exercise, as well as adding neuromotor exercises for the first time. The combination is up to you; how will you combine the four types of exercise? Depending on your intensity and schedule you could be training three days a week or training every day.
The key is to ensure that you are not only getting enough, but getting enough of each of the four types of exercise each week.