If you need a baseline of health, ask the experts.
As times change and people develop new habits and interests, exercise habits tend to change along with them. You wouldn’t be able to use exercise guidelines from the 1920s, for example, because back then, you were lucky if you even had a decent chair to sit in, as opposed to these days where everyone has their own dedicated chair. To accommodate changing times, the World Health Organization occasionally updates their recommendations for physical activity based primarily on age. Today happened to be one of those occasions.
Here’s how the WHO’s new guidelines shake out:
- Age 5-17: 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day, with vigorous aerobics at least 3 days a week.
- Age 18-64: 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity over the course of a week. Adults should also do muscle training at least twice a week.
- Age 65 and up: Varied periods of exercise 3 days a week, with emphasis on balancing exercise.
- Pregnant women: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic and strength exercise in a week.
About 27.5% of adults don’t get enough physical activity in a day, according to recent statistics, and with everyone stuck at home due to the pandemic, that number may have worsened. This is partially why the WHO has shifted focus away from strictly regimented exercise and put more emphasis on simply getting some kind of physical activity done. Some movement is better than no movement, after all.
“Some people have been able to take advantage of reduced commute time and working remotely to be able to squeeze workouts into their schedule that were not feasible when tied to their office all day,” Dr. Theodore B. Shybut, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, told Yahoo Life. “On the other hand, many people have lost jobs or have had to provide more hands-on child care and so they have lost a lot of time they would normally have available for workouts.”
The bottom line is that you should try to squeeze a spot of exercise in wherever you can. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes here and there, those can all add up at the end of the week.