An Exercise Prescription We Can All Live With

The timeless adage that "bodies at rest stay at rest, and bodies in motion stay in motion" seems to hold more truth than ever, according to a report published in October 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report's main directive is that Americans should follow one simple rule when it comes to choosing an exercise period: move your body for 150 minutes a week at a moderately intense rate to stay healthy and fit. The report indicates that it matters very little what form of movement Americans want to take, whether it be swimming, walking, running or weight-lifting, as long as their bodies are in motion.

Activities that Help Us Stay Fit

The HHS report breaks down activities into several different categories, including aerobic exercise, weight-training, and even household chores that burn calories. The report also makes recommendations for types of activities that can be chosen by children, adults, and people over age 65. At the core of the report's recommendations is the idea that sustained aerobic exercise is the foundation of any fitness plan, but there are countless other activity choices that can be fun and have beneficial effects on health.

An Exercise Plan for Adults with Limited Time

For adults who have little time for workouts, it is possible to work out only three times a week at 30-minute intervals. This comes in slightly under the 150-minute per week requirement, but if you push yourself during those 30-minute periods, you still still get the same results. A good plan would be to speed-walk, run or bike for aerobic activity and weight train on alternate days of the week. That way, you burn calories and build lean muscle without cutting into your life-schedule too much.

A Prescription for People Age 65 and Up

For older Americans, keeping to the moderately intense program of 150 minutes per week can be achieved by walking, joining an exercise class, and / or using resistance bands for strength training a few times a week. This schedule is not too grueling and will allow you to enjoy your workout without going too far overboard.

Fitness Goals for Children

For children age 6-17, the report recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-intensity activity per day. The difference between working out for children and adults is that children do not usually conform to rigid schedules of activity. Instead, they can enjoy moving at different levels of intensity through the day, with rest-breaks as they want them. For instance, they may walk to school for 20 minutes, play on the playground for 30 minutes, or throw the Frisbee for 20 minutes. The key is to provide kids with opportunities for movement. If they are given the option to do so, they will usually opt to participate in fitness-related activities. It is really up to the parent to make this possible.

The Main Goal

The main goal of the exercise prescription offered by the HHS report is to emphasize that people can choose any form of activity that they want to achieve the 150-minute per week activity goal, as long as they move for those 150 minutes each week. With this kind of flexibility, it is a bit easier to get motivated to begin exercising!