We have all heard about the importance of “lifestyle modifications” to improve state of our health. What is behind that fancy term? Put simply, it’s all about healthy eating and increasing physical activity. There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes the right level of increased physical activity (the word “exercise” puts some people off). The U.S. Surgeons General have weighed in on the issues at least since the days of Dr. C. Everett Koop (who started out the Shape Up America organization and its famous 10,000 steps a day initiative; you can download the details of that campaign on www.shapeup.org). Turns out 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles) is about the right level. Below are some current recommendations from the nation’s top doc (as summarized on Livestrong.com):
The Surgeon General recommends being physically active to help balance the calories you consume. To gain the health benefits associated with exercise, the Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week for adults and 60 minutes for children. You are also encouraged to replace sedentary activities with activities that require more movement. Choose types of aerobic exercise that you enjoy to help you exercise consistently.
Resistance training, such as weight lifting and resistance band workouts, can improve your muscle strength and help prevent against some chronic diseases. Regular resistance training can also help you control your weight, improve symptoms of depression and improve bone health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Dietary Guidelines and the Surgeon General recommend doing resistance training exercises at least two times each week.