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How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?

October 26, 2011
By Tom Canty, Vice President and General Manager for Labor, Government and Special Accounts at Empire BlueCross BlueShield

We all know that physical activity is good for our head, our hearts and our love handles but more than 60% of us don’t do it enough. So how much is enough? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it is: 1) Engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five or more days each week; or 2)  Engaging in vigorous-intensity physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three or more days each week.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to and break a sweat. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Here are some examples of ‘moderate-intensity’ activities:

  •         Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  •         Water aerobics
  •         Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
  •         Tennis (doubles)
  •         General gardening

Here’s what ‘vigorous-intensity’ looks like:

  •          Race-walking, jogging, or running
  •          Swimming laps
  •          Tennis (singles)
  •          Aerobic dancing
  •          Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  •          Jumping rope
  •          Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

The truth is that opportunities to exercise are just about everywhere, and you don’t have to be an athlete to participate. When you’re ready to start getting serious about exercising, find an activity you already have to do and really work it – or find one you enjoy and really do it!

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