The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity everyday, plus additional strength training at least 3 days a week as part of that hour. Some kids will surpass that if they are involved in sports or extracurricular activities. It is recommended that adults do a minimum of 75 minutes per week of intense aerobic activity, and at least 150 minutes for more extensive health benefits. Besides, adults should engage in strength training of all major muscles at least 2 days per week. The disturbing truth is that these numbers are not even close to being met!
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services:
- Only one in three children are physically active every day. (1)
- Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; (2) only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week. (3)
- More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth. (4)
- Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video-games, computer). (5)
We can do much better than this! Keep in mind, the governmental requirements for physical activity are the bare minimum. Knowing the importance of physical activity is not good enough, you must engage in these activities. Exercise (just like eating healthy) should be an integral part of everyone’s life. No one is expected to go from being sedentary to overactive, but lets get started! Like everything else in life, it’s a conditioning process. Start out slow and build up. Most people would never forget to eat for the whole day, but many are avoiding physical activity which is fundamental to a healthy body and mind!
In order to optimize gene expression, obtain remarkable disease preventing health benefits, and experience a positive aesthetic transformation, one must engage in moderate exercise (aerobic and anaerobic) most days out of the week – with a few days of high intensity interval training. For obvious reasons, if your profession involves being on your feet all day, a lot of walking, and heavy lifting, you would not need to work out nearly as much as someone who is sitting at a desk all day, walking to and from their car with perhaps a few trips to the bathroom.
There are many options to consider when creating a more physically active lifestyle to better your health.
It is essential to practice aerobic as well as anaerobic exercises during your fitness routine. Aerobic training requires oxygen to generate energy and can be performed for longer periods of time (depending on intensity level), engaging and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Some examples of aerobic exercises are walking, running, aerobics, hiking, cycling, swimming, skipping rope, rowing, or playing tennis, soccer, or other sports. Some of these activities involve anaerobic, or higher intensity as well, especially when there is sprinting involved.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – incorporates short periods of high-intensity exercise like sprinting (rowing, jump rope, biking), with longer low-intensity recovery time in between these shorter bursts. HIIT would be considered cardio that is anaerobic in nature. For example, you may sprint for 30 seconds, then jog for 2 minutes, repeat 6-8 times, and that is your workout! Slow-moderate cardio will only allow your body to burn the calories expended during that particular session. HIIT, on the other hand, stimulates the body’s overall metabolic functioning so you burn more fat and calories up to 24 hours following the workout. Cut your cardio time in half, burn more calories, and increase your endurance!
In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers compared sprint interval training to traditional endurance training. They concluded that not only is HIIT more time-efficient, but induces rapid muscle and performance adaptations comparable to traditional endurance training!
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
It is VERY well-known these days, even through mainstream media, that exercise is highly advantageous for the human body. Regular activity increases the quality of life and helps one to escape premature death from a long list of potential diseases! Although knowledge is extremely important, just knowing the advantages of exercise doesn’t get the job done. It takes conscious action, planning, discipline, and yes, consistency. Remember, exercise and movement are inescapable pieces of the puzzle when trying to maintain a healthy non-toxic body.
The following are some of the INCREDIBLE benefits you can experience when engaging in aerobic and resistance training on a consistent basis:
- Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing/helps in the elimination of many conditions or diseases like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, high cholesterol, obesity, certain cancers, diabetes, and many more.
- Exercise increases peristalsis; these intestinal contractions are imperative for nutrient absorption, the removal of toxic waste, and very important for the prevention of colon cancer and other intestinal diseases.
- Aerobic exercise increases the amount of oxygen available to the body, which increases cellular energy, allowing for optimal nutrient intake and release of toxic waste, while helping balance your pH. Remember, cancer cells are anaerobic and do not like oxygen!
- Consistent intense exercise promotes the production of nitric oxide. As the heart pumps blood through the muscles, the lining in your arteries releases nitric oxide into the blood. This relaxes and widens the vessel walls and increases blood flow. The production of nitric oxide is even more relevant with age as veins and arteries can begin to degrade.
- Over 60,000 studies done in the last 20 years show that nitric oxide works to prevent atherosclerosis, greatly enhances libido, and improves strength, endurance, and sleep quality. Unfortunately, the benefits of nitric oxide production are exhausted 3-4 weeks after physical activity is discontinued. Supplements like arginine and citrulline are also very effective in instigating nitric oxide release in addition to foods like beets and watermelon.
- Regular exercise increases the threshold for lactic acid accumulation and allows you to work out longer and harder to maximize your results.
- Aerobic exercise strengthens the cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory systems (heart, blood vessels, lungs, etc.) helping to reverse the aging process. Aerobic exercise also increases oxygen levels and helps to rid excess acidity that builds up in the tissues.
- Resistance training helps keep blood sugar levels balanced, allows the body to utilize insulin more efficiently, and prevents diabetes and excess fat storage.
- Aerobic and resistance training helps the liver to methylate or process dangerous synthetic xenoestrogens. These toxins are found in the food, water, and the environment, basically everywhere. These synthetic toxins cause estrogen dominance, disrupt hormone balance and create many negative conditions in the body.
- Exercise (especially resistance), strengthens the muscles, joints, tendons, and bones while improving flexibility. Many studies show that osteocalcin levels (markers of bone growth) in the blood increase following intense resistance training.
- Regular exercise stimulates endorphin levels and increasing neurotransmitter activity like serotonin, has a very positive impact on mood, and reduces depression, anxiety, and other mental health disturbances.
- Exercise increases circulation and blood supply to the tissues, spikes oxygen levels, and boosts cellular energy production. This stimulates the brain, improving cognitive function. Along with the right nutrition, exercise immensely helps to improve sex lives and sleeping patterns!
- Exercise accelerates the metabolism, helping to lower body fat percentage and optimize all cellular metabolic function. Resistance training can increase mitochondrial energy-burning furnaces by more than 20 times! Keep in mind that a pound of fat takes up to 18% more space than a pound of muscle. So, no worries for all the women out there that are afraid of looking “too big” if they put on more muscle, it’s quite the opposite. Plus, the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn!
- As long as you don’t constantly over-train, exercise boosts immunity, fights inflammation, and helps to sustain ideal pH levels. It also helps to prevent the onset of disease and even reverses it.
1- National Association for Sport and Physical Education.The Fitness Equation: Physical Activity + Balanced Diet = Fit Kids.Reston, VA: National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1999.
2-U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Available at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm.
3- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/healthy_people/hp2010.htm.
4- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020.
5- Rideout, Victoria J., Foehr, Ulla G., and Roberts, Donald F. Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. Rep. Menlo Park: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010.