I walk 30 minutes every day; isn’t that enough? I used to do weights but I stopped 2 years ago; my muscles should be fine right?
Although something is better than nothing; to truly feel different and have a real impact on your health there are some very specific guidelines that are consistent and proven through strong evidence, published by the American College of Sports Medicine, that are ideal for adults to maintain both physical and cardiovascular (heart and lung) health.
Resistance Strength Training – 2 -3 days a week for the major muscle groups
Although cardio training is often where people start their training program, I strongly believe that resistance training and a good base of strength should be the first stage of any fitness program. There are several reasons for this:
- Firstly, building muscle strength helps support the joints, allows you to move efficiently and helps improve balance; so that when you are in an unstable position your muscles are strong enough to protect you for losing balance and falling. In addition, when performing cardio exercises without a base of strength the joints are more vulnerable to injury because they do not have the muscular support. Building strength, particularly in the stabilising muscles of the major joints such as the back, hips and pelvis are extremely protective of the lower back.
- Secondly, muscle is a very metabolically active tissue; which means it breaks down glucose and helps to reduce insulin resistance. When you perform cardio exercise it uses glucose/fats as energy however the efficiency in which you use these energy sources is dependant on the amount of muscle mass.
Vigorous cardio exercise – 3 times a week, for more than 20 mins
To make a true difference in fitness you need to load the heart to more than it is comfortable usually doing in order force it to adapt and grow. Like any muscle it adapts to the load you require of it so as you train the heart by asking it to do more than it is usually comfortable doing it adapts and improves its function.
However, if you do have a history of heart/lung or other medical issues, such as diabetes or thyroid issues, it is important to be assessed by a qualified physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to ensure that a safe level of cardio training is determined for you or heart problems are picked up early and addressed as soon as possible.
Moderate intensity exercises – 5 times a week, for at least 30 mins
This type of exercise needs to be performed on most days of the week. It can be walking but at a slightly faster pace; it should be a brisk walk that gets you a bit puffed. This is more the maintenance side of your training program and help to make the first 2 parts (resistance and cardio training) more effective.
The benefits of this regime are numerous but include the following:
- Reduced risk of all-cause mortality and risk from heart disease – reduced by 60%.
- Reduced hypertension, reduced insulin resistance, improved blood lipid profile and reduced blood inflammatory markers.
- Reduced symptoms of depression and improved mental health.
- Better overall function and ability to get on the life and the things that you really want to do.
These just scratch the surface of the benefits of exercise. For more detail on these guidelines, please download the article below.
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Source: ACSM Exercise Guidelines