Guidelines for Exercise

Scientists recommend 60 minutes of light exercise and physical activity each day to stay healthy or improve health. As your fitness level progresses, you may want to include more strenuous activities into your routine. This will enable you to reduce the duration of your activities while still obtaining the same heart health benefits.
Here are some examples of exercises and activities of varying intensity levels.

  • Light effort (60 minutes daily)
  • Light walking
  • Volleyball
  • Easy gardening
  • Stretching
  • Moderate effort (30-60 minutes daily)
  • Brisk walking
  • Biking
  • Raking leaves
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Water aerobics
  • Vigorous effort (20-30 minutes daily)
  • Aerobics
  • Jogging
  • Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Fast swimming
  • Fast dancing

Remember, start slowly and build up. If you’re not sure where to begin or what level of activity is safe for you, consult your health professional.

The components of a healthy exercise program

Different types of exercise provide different benefits. You should strive to build a routine with a mixture of exercises. A well-rounded routine should include aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises.
Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activity strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Any exercise is considered aerobic if it raises your heart rate, and you can perform it for extended periods of time. Examples of aerobic activities include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Household chores
  • Sports such as soccer and tennis

Strength training

Strength training refers to exercises that build muscle mass. Strength training contributes to weight control because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories, while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15 per cent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control. Any activity where you use large muscle groups in repetition to build muscle mass is considered strength training. Examples include:

  • Heavy work such as cutting and piling wood
  • Raking and carrying leaves
  • Weight training
  • Deep knee bends
  • Push-ups

Flexibility training

Flexibility training is another important part of overall fitness. Gentle bending and stretching exercises have been shown to increase range of motion and decrease muscle soreness associated with exercise. These exercises may also reduce your chances of experiencing exercise-related injury. Remember, always warm up before stretching by doing light walking or arm-pumping first. Here are some activities that provide a flexibility training benefit:

  • Gardening
  • Mopping the floor
  • Yard work
  • Vacuuming
  • Stretching exercises
  • T’ai Chi
  • Golf
  • Bowling
  • Yoga
  • Curling
  • Dance