Monday, 8 June 2009

The Health Benefits of Exercise

What is the Healthiest Type of Exercise?
Different types of exercise offer different benefits. Aerobic or cardio workouts primarily improve the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs), while weight-training or strength-training improves muscular strength and flexibility or stretching exercises improve overall mobility and coordination.
How Much Exercise is Needed?
The U.S. Surgeon General, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine, recommend getting a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. You can do all 30 minutes at once or break it up into 10- or 15-minute periods.
Moderate intensity exercise or physical activity is activity that causes a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. One way to gauge moderate activity is with the "talk test" - exercising hard enough to break a sweat but not so hard you can't comfortably carry on a conversation.
Brisk walking is an ideal moderate-intensity activity. For the average person, a brisk walk means walking 3-4 miles an hour, or about as fast as you'd walk if you were late for a ball-game or PTA meeting!
Walking Improves Health
Research studies like the Nurses' Health Study, Health Professionals Follow-up Study, Women's Health Study, Harvard Health Study, National Health Interview Survey, Women's Health Initiative, Honolulu Heart Program, and others show that this simple form of exercise substantially reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in different populations.
30 Minutes Exercise is Not a Maximum Training Period
Although a mere 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a day is an excellent way to start, exercising longer, harder, or both can result in even greater health benefits.
Exercise For Weight Reduction
If you are walking or exercising mainly to reduce weight, 30 minutes or so a day will only be beneficial if you also monitor your calorie-intake. Even then, you may need to increase the duration or intensity of your workout. A report from the US Institute of Medicine reveals that it takes 60 minutes a day of moderate-intensity activity to maintain a healthy weight.
Among the 3,000 men and women who are part of the National Weight Control Registry, a select club that includes only people who lost more than 30 pounds and kept them off for at least a year, the average participant burns an average of 400 calories per day in physical activity. That's the equivalent of about an hour of brisk walking. ( -

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