Thursday, April 26

Ashe about your health: Numbers to guide physical activity

Physical activity guidelines outline what students should be doing to lead a healthy life


Erin Gleason / Daily Bruin

The original version of this article contained information that was unclear and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.

150, 75, 10, 300, 150, 2

These numbers are not the winning combination for the next Powerball jackpot, they represent the weekly amount of physical activity you should participate in to stay healthy.

Specifically, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the World Health Organization make the following recommendations: Adults aged 18-64 should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of the two.

So what’s the difference between a moderate- and vigorous-intensity workout? Moderate-intensity physical activities include walking at a brisk pace (three miles per hour or faster), biking slower than 10 mph, water aerobics, playing doubles tennis and shooting baskets.

Vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity includes racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps, playing singles tennis, aerobic dancing, jumping rope, playing a game of basketball and biking 10 mph or faster.

Adults should perform aerobic activity in 10-minute segments. To get additional health benefits from the exercise you are already doing, you should increase your moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of the two.

Two or more days a week should emphasize muscle-strengthening activities of major muscle groups.

Need some more convincing? Other organizations like the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine also agree with the above guidelines.

Worried that you are doing less weekly physical activity than what is recommended? Don’t be discouraged; it is always better for your health to do some physical activity rather than none at all.

Now that you know the recommendations, what’s the next step? The answer will depend on your personal fitness level and your personal goals. If you have been sedentary, it is always good to “start low and go slow.” Maybe you could start with taking a 15-minute walk five days per week. You can slowly increase the duration of the walks and add muscle-strengthening exercises like push ups.

Choose activities that you enjoy, so it won’t feel like such a chore. Find a buddy to go to the Wooden Center with or take a walk into Westwood instead of jumping in the car. If you are already active, increase the frequency, duration, or intensity of your physical activity to challenge yourself. Cross train and try new activities. Being physically active will improve your health despite your starting fitness level.

What’s the take home message? Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to your health. Being active and feeling well improves your academic performance. So, what are you waiting for? Get off your seat, and go do something active. After all, you live in sunny Southern California. Make the most of it.

Dr. Erin Gleason is a clinician at the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.

Clarification: Physical activities for people who have been sedentary could include doing muscle-strengthening exercises like push ups.

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