If you are taking the time to read this blog post on a training supplement website, I will assume you have some idea of what exercise is, and some idea of the depth and breadth of activities this can incorporate. You also likely have some idea that it is important for physical/mental/emotional health, and that it can be a lot of fun and a very rewarding pastime. But you may have asked yourself; why exactly is it important? How much should I do? What kinds should I perform to benefit me? Hopefully, we can answer a few of these questions.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) both recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread out over the week and twice weekly moderate to strenuous muscle resistance training. These recommendation are based on the Center for Health and Human Services (HHS) 2nd edition physical activity guidelines. There is a very large body of evidence that following these guidelines can have a significant impact in improving or curing metabolic disease (type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) as well as improving concentration, learning, cognitive function, anxiety disorders, major depression, cardiovascular disease, sleep, sexual function, and bone density amongst others.
To go even further, there is also significant evidence for you to go beyond this in your training. The above recommendations are a good starting point just for baseline health (as well as trying to be more active throughout the day), but when you train aerobic(cardiovascular) capacity above 12 METS(about an 8 minute mile) for men, and 10 METS(about a 10 minute mile) for women, you have much lower risk of cardiovascular disease and overall reduction in chance of death. When it comes to strength training, having more lean body mass(organs, bones, blood, muscles and connective tissues mostly) is significantly associated with reduced risk of many metabolic and cardiovascular diseases as well as respiratory disease and all cause mortality. The only way you can improve your lean body mass is by lifting weights and eating to support the growth.
What does all of this mean for you? Exercise is the best thing we have to combat many physical changes associated with age and can keep you more stable, functional, and independent for longer.
Get at least 150 minutes per week of cardio (slow jog or faster).
Train enough that you could perform an equivalent of a 10(female) or 8(male) minute mile.
Strength train your whole body twice per week at a minimum.
Strength train more and heavier (within your own evolving limits), if you have the time and drive, to increase your lean body mass.
Stay focused, stay strong!
Harrison Vogel, DO
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018
Comparisons of leisure-time physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness as predictors of all-cause mortality in men and women. D Lee, X Sui, F Ortega, Y Kim, T Church, R Winett, U Ekelund, P Katzmarzyk, S Blair. BJSM Volume 45, Issue 6.
Predicted Lean Body Mass, Fat Mass, and All Cause and Cause Specific Mortality in Men: Prospective US Cohort Study Dong Hoon Lee, NaNa Keum,, Frank B Hu, E John Orav, Eric B Rimm, Walter C Willett, Edward L Giovannucci. BMJ 2018 Jul 3;362:k2575.