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Are you actually getting enough exercise?

January 22, 2014

Whether you regularly frequent the gym to hit the commercial fitness equipment or you’ve resolved to become more invested in lifestyle changes that incorporate more exercise, how can you know if you’re really getting enough exercise in your everyday life? According to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention, only about 20 percent of U.S. adults are fulfilling the recommended amount of exercise, and only 1 in 5 American men and women meet both the aerobic and strength guidelines for physical activity from the federal government. They recommend that adults reach a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. Additionally, men and women should engage in strength training at least twice a week. So the next time you’re running on commercial treadmills, ask yourself if you’re doing all you can to achieve a proper amount of fitness. Keep in mind, the guidelines are given for the general public, so it’s alright to tweak them for your personal results, whether it’s to gain endurance for longer rides on commercial exercise bikes or to drop those unwanted pounds. “Although only 20 percent of adults are meeting the overall physical activity recommendations, it is encouraging that half the adults in the United States are meeting the aerobic guidelines and a third are meeting the muscle-strengthening recommendations,” Carmen D. Harris, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s physical activity and health branch, explained. “This is a great foundation to build upon, but there is still much work to do. Improving access to safe and convenient places where people can be physically active can help make the active choice the easy choice.” To ensure you’re getting enough exercise to make a real impact each week, try: Creating a fitness journal: Jot down each workout after you’ve completed it, including what you did, how much time you logged in and how intense it was. You can use the scale of perceived exertion that rates your intensity level from zero (no effort) to 10 (can’t talk and breathe at the same time). Alternating between strength and cardio: At least three days a week should be devoted to cardio workouts on equipment like commercial ellipticals, and at least two days should be focused on lifting weights and making muscles stronger. This ensures that you achieve both the cardio and strength components, which complement each other and make you more fit and in shape.