What is the Recommended Amount of Exercise?

By:  Alex Moyer, BS, Exercise and Sports Studies

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So your doctor says that you need to get more exercise…..Well how much exercise will make a difference? Should you be exercising everyday, every other day, once a week, for ten minutes, fifty minutes, or two hours?  

 

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that the average American get 150 minutes of moderate activity total  (five days a week or more), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week (three days a week or more).  A combination of moderate and vigorous activity can also be used.  They also recommend that the duration of exercise be no less than ten minutes of continuous activity to gain maximum benefit from the activity.

 

How can I fit exercise in?

 

One of the easiest physical activities to begin is a walking program.  It only requires a supportive pair of shoes and a place to walk.  Walking at a moderate pace (about 3 mph) counts as moderate activity, while walking at a very fast pace (4.5 mph or greater) would count as vigorous activity.  Running is another exercise that can be done with little equipment, and counts as a vigorous activity.  You may even consider signing up for a race or walk to motivate yourself to get out and train (plus you usually get a shirt for signing up!)

 

 

Many sports can also be used to increase your minutes.  Golf (with no cart), ballroom dancing, shooting a basketball around, and doubles tennis can all be considered moderate activities.  While soccer, basketball (game), cross-country skiing, swimming and singles tennis can be considered vigorous activity.  The important things to remember are to stay safe, and find something that you enjoy.  If you enjoy doing your physical activity, you will be much more likely to stick with it in the long run, so get creative and find an activity that works for you.

 

 

Even small amounts of exercise can be beneficial even if it does not meet the recommended volume.  So even if you are not able to complete the recommended amount, just try to get moving and work your way up to the recommendations.  It is also important to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have any medical conditions.  

 

References:

 

Garber, C. E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M. R., Franklin, B. A., Lamonte, M. J., Lee, I. M., … & Swain, D. P. (2011). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise43(7), 1334-1359.

 

Pescatello, L. S. (2014). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health.

What Really Defines “Chronic” Low Back Pain?

By Amy Potter, SPT

 

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Do you have low back pain that has lasted for a while? There may be some simple things you can do to help manage this! According to research, the best option in most cases is going to see a physical therapist. A Physical Therapist will evaluate and treat the source of your pain, thereby improving function.  

 

Chronic back pain is often defined as back pain that lasts longer than three months. There is a growing amount of scientific research that says that learning about the neuroscience behind your experience of pain can help you go through the day with less difficulty from your back pain. Practicing relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing, and beginning an aerobic exercise program (doing activities such as walking, jogging, and swimming) for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week can also help your back pain.

 

The goal is to reduce back pain and improve function. When pain is chronic, the pain you experience is no longer indicating tissue damage, but rather your brain’s perception of a need to protect the tissue. This may be more easily understood using the analogy of a home alarm system. Initially when you injured your back, some tissue such as a ligament, tendon, nerve or muscle was hurt, and your nervous system acted as the alarm to let you know that something was wrong by making it feel painful. Over time, that tissue has healed, but your nervous system, or the body’s alarm system, has not calmed down and you still experience the same pain. This happens in about ¼ of people, and may be due to other factors such as stress, anxiety, failed treatments, lost hope, etc. This over-sensitive alarm system now has less tolerance for activities than it used to, and the alarm will go off (you will have pain) with even simple movements or activities that before your injury were not painful.

 

To help teach your “alarm system” or nervous system to become should consider an evaluation from a physical therapist to determine what type of corrective exercises should be performed. Hand –on treatment is also very important for, practice relaxation, and perform diaphragmatic breathing. Physical therapists can also help by creating a program of specific exercises and massage or other hands-on treatment techniques specific to your body and your experiences with back pain that may help you feel better, and get there more quickly than what you can do on your own.