Get up, get moving: Moderate intensity physical activity – Part 1

Adults should target 150 minutes or more of moderate physical activity to reach weekly exercise goals and gain health benefits.

May 31, 2012 - Author: Diane Rellinger, Michigan State University Extension

There is no denying the benefits of physical activity for overall health. We hear important health messages often and know avoiding inactivity is critical to maintaining a healthy weight and lowering our risk of chronic disease. The recommendation for an adult age 18 to 64 years of age is to participate in 2.5 hours or 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Let’s define moderate intensity physical activities and explore ways to meet and track your physical activity goals.

There is a difference between light and moderate intensity in your physical movements. Light intensity physical activity does not cause you to breathe harder or raise your heart rate. An example would be taking a casual walk or doing light housework. Remember the weekly physical activity recommendation is targeting moderate intense activities which do in fact raise your heart rate and cause you to breathe faster, thus improving your heart and lung function. Light intensity movements do not count towards your weekly goal of 150 minutes.

Compare the difference between low and medium speed on a hand mixer. On medium or moderate speed the mixer blades are moving quicker and are more efficient at blending the batter than on low or a light speed. Your body is similar to the mixer, when it is working at a moderate or medium speed it is more efficient at burning calories than at a light or low speed.

Choose fun, moderately intense activities you enjoy such as brisk walking at 3.5 mph which is a 17 minute mile, biking at a speed of 10 mph or slightly less, playing tennis (doubles), playing golf (walking and carrying clubs), general gardening (raking), mowing the lawn with a push lawnmower, pushing a baby stroller, canoeing and dancing.

The goal of 150 minutes a week is a minimum goal. Start slow and strive to increase your time and intensity. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services achieving 150 to 299 minutes of week of moderate intensity physical activity will provide substantial health benefits. If you are striving to lose weight and keep it off and are seeking more extensive health benefits than increase your time to 300 minutes or more of moderate physical activity a week.

Tracking your progress can be a great motivational tool especially as you start to feel the benefits of being more active. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans has a simple weekly physical activity log for you to print and track your progress, or use the new U.S. Department of Agriculture SuperTracker which allows you to create your own personalized physical activity and nutrition plan.

Get up and get moving, and see how much your body loves you for it!

Tags: diabetes, msu extension, nutrition, physical activity, weight management

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