ACSM reveals exercise guidelines

Guidelines for what constitutes the most effective exercise regimen have been elusive. Recently, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) created a committee of medical and fitness experts to review the scientific literature and make recommendations.

The ACSM committee sought to provide guidance regarding the quantity and quality of exercise needed to remain fit and reduce the risks of developing disorders associated with inactivity. These conditions include heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

Regarding the quantity of exercise, the group concluded that adults should perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This should be in addition to limiting the amount of sedentary activities such as watching TV, reading and playing computer games.

The quality of exercise was divided into four categories:

Cardiorespiratory Exercise: Also known as aerobic exercise, this category includes running, cycling, rowing, elliptical training and many other activities. The recommended 150 minutes can be divided over five days or three days. The frequency and intensity should be gradually increased.

Resistance Exercise: The goal should be to train each major muscle group two to three days per week. Between two and four sets of 8-12 repetitions work best. Free weights, bands or machines are all acceptable modalities but the amount of resistance should be low at first.

Flexibility Exercise: Stretching exercises are imperative before engaging in any fitness regimen. For many adults stretching should be performed upon awakening to avoid injured muscles through the course of a normal day. Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds and repeated two to four times.

Neuromotor Exercise: This group of exercise is aimed at improving coordination and balance. It is particularly important as athletes grow older and has been proven to avoid falls. Activities including yoga, tai chi and dance are part of this group.

While these guidelines set an ideal goal, any activity is a “step” in the right direction.

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