Exercise do’s and don’ts

December 15, 2011

Want to feel healthier but don’t know where to start?nThe American College of Sports Medicine’s recent recommendations about the quality and quantity of exercise offers some sound advice. The Washington Post has taken the guidelines and published eight basic do’s and don’ts to help us maintain better health.

Do lift weights. Strength training is critical for older adults to help prevent age-related bone and muscle loss, both of which can lead to falls and serious injuries.

Don’t be a weekend warrior. Instead, do shorter bouts of exercise throughout the week.

Do diversify your exercise. The ACSM recommends ‘functional fitness’ activities such as Pilates, tai chi and yoga. These combine balance, stretching and muscle strengthening, and they can improve your agility and body control.

Don’t stay sedentary during your downtime. Try to find six or seven more hours a week to spend on your feet, and move around more and cut your evening screen time.

Do stretch after working out, not before. To obtain maximum benefit from flexibility training, your muscles need to be warm.

Further do’s and don’ts.

Even a little exercise is better than nothing though these minimum exercise requirements (as recommended by the ACSM) do seem over the top for most people trying to fit everything into their busy lives. That’s not even taking current fitness levels into account.

Aerobic training. 5 days a week of moderate-intensity exercise, 30-60 minutes a day, at least 150 minutes a week, or 3 days a week of vigorous-intensity exercise, 20-60 minutes a day, at least 75 minutes a week.Resistance training. 2-3 days a week, 48 hours between sessions, 2-4 sets per exercise, 8-12 reps per set (10-15 for older adults just starting exercise), 2-3 minutes of rest between sets.Flexibility training (stretching). 2-3 days a week, hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds, repeat each stretch 2-4 times.Functional fitness (Pilates, tai chi, yoga). 2-3 days a week, 20-30 minutes a day.

My recommendation? Start with baby steps and see how you go!

Vanessa Pearce, London Pilates Studio 27a Fishers Lane, Chiswick, W4 1RX

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