A survey of 4,000 adults revealed that static activity, such as strength training, had stronger links to reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases than dynamic activity, such as walking and cycling.
The researchers point out, however, that any amount of either kind of exercise brings benefits, and that it is probably better to do both than to increase either.
Recommended amounts and type of exercise
According to the AHA, guidelines recommend that adults in the United States should be physically active for at least 150 minutes each week.
This activity should consist of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination. It is better to spread the exercise across the week than complete it all in 1 or 2 days.
The guidelines also advise doing exercise that strengthens the muscles, such as resistance or weight training. People should do this on at least 2 days per week.
Even greater benefits accrue from 300 minutes of exercise per week, says the AHA. They also recommend breaking up prolonged bouts of sitting — even getting up and doing some light activity is better than just sitting, they add.
National Institutes of Health (NIH), advises older adults to do four types of exercise:
- Endurance, or aerobic, exercises that increase breathing and raise heart rate.
- Strength, or resistance, exercises that strengthen major muscle groups in the upper and lower body and improve their function.
- Balance exercises to reduce the risk of falls and the disabilities that they can cause.
- Flexibility exercises that stretch the body and increase a person’s range of movement.
Aerobic activity includes walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, gardening and all forms of sports, such as golf, tennis, and volleyball.
Push-ups, static rowing, resistance training, dips, arm, and leg raises, and hand grips are all examples of strength-building exercises.
Practicing Tai Chi and yoga can improve balance and flexibility as can simple exercises that involve the use of the body or everyday objects, such as a chair.
Only around 1 in 5 adults and teens in the U.S. meet the recommended 150 minutes per week of “heart-pumping” activity. With this in mind, perhaps the more pressing message is that clinicians should encourage people to “exercise regardless.”
Dr. Maia P. Smith