Physical activity, or exercise, is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure and maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.
By maintaining a balanced focus on the five components of fitness, which are muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, body composition and a mind-body or mindfulness practice an individual can experience the many benefits of physically activity.
Extensive research from leaders in health such as the American College of Sports Medicine, World Health Organization and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there are a variety of benefits that result from regular physical activity. These benefits include weight control, reduction of cardiovascular disease, reduction in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, reduce the risk of some types of cancer, strength bones and muscles, improve mental health, improve ability to do activities of daily living, maintain mental focus and increase longevity.
For optimal health and fitness the American College of Sports Medicine makes the following recommendations:
For cardiovascular improvements adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
For muscular strength and endurance benefits adults should train each major muscle group two or three days per week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
For range of motion improvements adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days per week.
For neuromotor, or functional fitness, improvements adults should participate in activities that involve motor skills like balance and coordination by doing activities like yoga or tai chi two to three days per week.
To decrease body fat and increase lean body mass for body composition improvements improvements focus on participating in regular physical activity and eating a healthy balanced diet.
To decrease stress, decrease blood pressure and develop a healthy mind-body-spirit connection participate in activities such as Pilates and yoga at least two to three times per week.
Pairing exercise with a healthy, balanced, whole-food plant-based diet seems to be the best way to improve overall health. Research shows that a plant-based diet can lower body weight, and decrease the risk of many chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. By adding more physical activity and eating a healthy balanced diet these lifestyle modifications are a recipe for great health, wellness and longevity.
ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise