Get back into shape week: How much activity do you need?

Don’t wait until Jan. 1 to set a resolution to get fit. Usher out 2010 by starting a physical fitness routine now and make it the best Christmas present you’ve ever had. It’s “Get back into shape week” here at AtHomeFitness.com — today here’s a quick look at how much physical activity a person should get.
The U.S. Government has a great “Physical Activity Pyramid” that illustrates how people should incorporate physical activity into their lives.
A pyramid is only as strong as its base, so picture the “activity” pyramid as starting with the most important aspects at the bottom and working its way up to things that can be cut out.
At the base of the activity pyramid, it’s suggested people should try to get 30 minutes or more of physical actability a day. Before you say, “No way, I can’t work out for 30 minutes every day,” it’s important to note that many people already do a lot of these things without even thinking about it.
Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy, such as walking, gardening, washing your cars, walking the dog, mowing the lawn or playing with your kids. For health benefits, physical activity should be moderate or vigorous and add up to at least 30 minutes a day.
At the second level of the pyramid going up are three basic categories:
* Aerobic exercise (3-5 days per week, 20-60 minutes). Examples are Running on a treadmill, elliptical machine.
* Flexibility exercise (2-3 days a week) Static stretching of major muscle groups, hold each pose for 10-30 seconds.
* Strength exercise (2-3 days a week, 8-10 exercises, 1 set of 8-12 reps) Examples are biceps curl, triceps press, bench presses, squats, pushups, pull-ups.
At the third level of the pyramid is “Recreational Activities”, which should be done 2-3 days a week. The bottom two levels are most important, but if you can add rec activities such as golf, bowling, softball, soccer, yoga – then more power to you.
Finally, the “Do Sparingly” top level of the pyramid are activities that have little value to your health. Limit the time you spend playing on the computer, watching TV and taking escalators. Use the stairs!
For more on the Physical Activity Pyramid go to:
http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/physical_activity.html

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com

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