Smutty Fitness: Basic requirements for health
I hope this question doesn't come across as "lazy", because I'm genuinely interested in the answer.
What's the basic level of sport/fitness that a person should do on a weekly basis? I'm assuming stuff like HIT, training with weights, etc... are all just the "extra" on top of keeping your body in shape (and I don't mean ripped, just fit) and in good health.
For example, I do yoga once a week for 1.5 hours, I cycle back and forth to work (around 30 minutes in total) and I try to take a walk on my lunch break every day (another 30 minutes), longer ones on the weekend. I'm not looking to get incredibly fit, but I'd like to give my body the amount of exercise it truly needs to stay in good health. I hope this isn't phrased too confusingly! Thank you so much!
Thank you for this question and I think that this is a very important thing to address as many of us do not get the exercise that our bodies need to stay healthy.
As I say constantly, health looks different on everyone and what I believe is healthy for me is different from what my best friend, who has a newborn and a two year old, believes is healthy for her. We all have our ideas of how “healthy” we want to be, what we enjoy doing to keep us healthy and why health is important to us. Whether it is to prevent illness, heart disease, diabetes, keep up with our children, our grandchildren or look good in a bikini we all need to keep our bodies moving.
What is the minimum required amount of exercise as prescribed by Health Canada for adults between the ages of 18-69? 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous activity as well as 2 more days where you take part in some method of strength training such as weight lifting, yoga or Pilates. That means five days a week you are getting your heart rate up to an aerobic level (about 65-75% of your maximum heart rate) and you are hitting the gym for some strength, attending a weekly yoga class or doing a simple body weight routine at home.
This last point is especially important for us women as many of us shy away from lifting heavier weights in fear of getting bulky muscles. Strength training is very important to prevent us from becoming osteoporotic as well as maintain posture. This might not matter now in your 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s but your body will thank you later in life when you are still standing tall with strong bones.
Activities that would be categorized as moderate intensity would be walking, cycling, hiking and swimming (to name a few and depending on how high your heart rate gets could also be in the vigorous category) and vigorous activities would be jogging and running, indoor cycling classes, cross country skiing and competitive sports (such as playing in a weekly squash league). To make it simple, if you need to take a shower after the activity then it was vigorous but if you only broke into a light sweat and there is no need for a hair or makeup touch up (such as a lunchtime walk) then it was moderate.
The activities that we see in the media, such as HIT, Tabata, CrossFit, Body Insanity are all ways of moving our bodies to meet those requirements and as I have mentioned before, unless you are training for something specific it really does not matter what you are doing to get your heart rate up as long as you enjoy it and it challenges you.
Will the activity you are currently doing get your ready to run a 10km race? Probably not. But, if you continue what you are doing and combine it with a balanced diet you are considered “healthy” by Health Canada Standards. If I could recommend one thing it would be to add in one more day of yoga, even if it is just 30 minutes at home on your own.
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