Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Physical Activity Guidelines recommend Americans get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. However, more than 50 percent of American adults do not meet these guidelines.
A recently published study attempted to get a better understanding of the physical activities of American adults. Therefore, this study looked at physical activity habits of 9,800 American adults between 2003 and 2006.
And, the study found that active adults did at least two different physical activities in the past month. In addition, the very active adults did at least five different physical activities in the past month.
Also, the study found that adults with multiple physical activities were able to meet CDC’s physical activity guidelines. Moreover, investing in multiple physical activities gives you the flexibility to adapt. For example, if it’s raining on the day you planned to go for a walk, you can substitute an indoor activity like swimming.
Now, the most common activity among these active adults was walking with 30 percent of these adults averaging four 40-minute walks a week. Meanwhile, cycling and dancing were the next most common physical activities. In addition, other aerobic physical activities include swimming, jogging, tennis, golf, elliptical machines, under desk ellipticals while in the office, steppers, to name a few others.
Meanwhile, the study found that 44 percent of adults reported no physical activity. Moreover, some of the reasons for this inactivity was attributed to chronic health problems or unhealthy habits like smoking.
Meeting Guideline Recommendations
Now, active and very active adults have no problems achieving and exceeding CDC’s physical activity guidelines. But, for those who aren’t so active, meeting CDC’s guidelines is difficult. For example, a common activity, like walking, done expressly to get a workout might be motivating in the beginning. However, it can become a chore to do week after week. So, to overcome this tendency, it is preferable to be engaged in more than one physical activity.
Why Variety is Important
First, variety prevents boredom from doing the same workout over and over. Also, variety avoids or delays reaching a plateau in workout performance. For example, you may time your walks to do three miles. Consequently, you try to walk the three miles as fast as you can. However, your body has a limit on how fast you can walk the three miles. But, by adding variety in your workouts, you bypass the limit issue altogether.
Now, research has shown that adding variety improves adherence to your workouts. In fact, researchers, at the University of Florida, observed those who varied their workout as well as those who repeatedly did the same workout. And, they found that those who modified their workouts every two weeks, over an eight-week period, appeared to enjoy their workouts and stick to their workouts compared to those who didn’t.
By the way, varying your workouts help you stay physically challenged. Meanwhile, your body adapts to a new exercise program in about six to eight weeks. So, if you don’t change your workout towards the end of that six to eight week period, you end up reaching a plateau because your body has adapted to the workout.
How to Change your Workout
One of the ways to change your workout is to increase its intensity. For example, if your physical activity is walking, add intervals when you, significantly, pick up your pace. Or, even jog for short periods.
Another way to change your workout is to add other activities or cross train. These different activities give your body new challenges. For example, add jogging, bicycling, dancing, or swimming into your repertoire of physical activities.
On the other hand, some people are completely happy doing the same activity over and over. They are not bothered by training plateau. They are perfectly content to maintain their health and fitness level doing the same activity.
Four Types of Workouts
While the CDC recommendations focus on aerobic activities, there are three other physical activities that are just as important: strength training, balance training, and flexibility training. For example, strength training makes muscles stronger, which could help prevent injuries during aerobic workouts. Next, balance exercises use muscles to stabilize your movement and reduce risk of injuries. Lastly, flexibility workouts help you with your strength training because they stretch your muscles and help improve range of motion at your joints.
In conclusion, there are a very wide varieties of physical activities that can help you meet or exceed CDC guidelines for duration and intensities and become fit. While, finding five aerobic activities may be a stretch for many, finding two or three is a definite possibility.