Do you walk every day after dinner? Or run every morning before work? I play tennis three to four days a week and take a few walks, and I feel pretty good about that. But according to the National Institute of Health, we all could do better.
The NIH recommends that we make sure our exercise practice span four areas: Aerobic, Balance, Muscle Building and Stretching.
Last spring the super-fit, underwear-model husband of my tennis partner, Gail, happened to watch us in a competitive match. He generously reported, “You both need to do some cardio so you can run faster for those balls.” Gee, thanks.
And as my tottering performance at a YMCA balance class among silver-haired ladies who were all as poised as oak trees proved, I’ve got some work to do.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines for the type and amount of exercise we should be completing each week. The recommendations differ for different ages.
Children and Adolescents, Ages 6 - 17
Children and teens should exercise 60 minutes or more per day. Those 60 minutes should include aerobic activity such as outdoor games and running, muscle strengthening such as sit-ups, and/or gymnastics and running.
Weight lifting puts too much strain on young joints and growth plates. For healthy growing bones, young children should engage in the age-appropriate old standards such climbing trees and crawling all over jungle gyms.
Adults, Ages 18 - 64
Aerobics: We should get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity (read brisk walking, bike riding on level ground, or doubles tennis) or one hour and 15 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity (running, swimming laps, basketball, rowing or singles tennis) per week.
Muscle Strengthening: In addition to our moderate or high intensity aerobics, we should be working every major muscle group at least two days a week. Beyond weight lifting, muscle strength can be built up with resistance bands, exercises that use body weight such as sit ups and push ups, heavy gardening and yoga.
Older Adults, Ages 65+