Activity for Better Health

Activity for Better Health

by Mike Butler CSCS

People who exercise not only feel better about themselves, but they live longer and enjoy better health. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers, and heart problems. The key is to find the right exercise for you. If it is fun, you are more likely to stay motivated. You may want to walk with a friend, dance around your house, run up and down the stairs, take your kids to the park and play with them, join a gym and participate in a class, or plan a group activity because it is always easier to work out with friends. If you have been inactive for awhile, be smart and start out slowly.


Do a simple warm up to prepare your muscles for the activity you have planned. Walking in place, doing lunges with arm raises helps to warm up your major muscle groups and prevent injury.


Take time to stretch after the warm up, and don’t forget to do stretching exercises after your aerobic workout to keep your muscles limber and to decrease discomfort.


Healthy adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week. Which activity you choose would depend on your current activity level and your health and fitness goals.


Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. You should be able to talk but not sing the words to your favorite song. Some examples of activities requiring moderate effort are:

  • Brisk walking
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower


Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate increases. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Listed below are some examples of activities that require vigorous effort:

  • Jogging or running
  • Taking an aerobics class at the gym
  • Swimming laps
  • Riding a bike fast or up hills, taking a spinning class
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Playing basketball or other team/group sports with running as a component


A rule of thumb is that one minute of vigorous activity is about the same as two minutes of moderate activity. Some people like vigorous types of activity because it gives them about the same health benefits in half the time. You need to feel comfortable doing moderate-intensity activities before you move on to more vigorous ones. If you haven’t been very active lately, increase your activity level slowly.


Muscle strengthening activity should be added two to three times a week to add lean muscle and tone your body. Adding strength training is also good for your bones and helps to keep them strong and prevent age related bone loss. Weight training should include activities for all major muscle groups and can be alternated for variety and to give the muscle groups a rest.


In addition to working out vigorously or moderately it is very important to keep hydrated. Drinking adequate water can help flush your system and eliminate impurities and muscle wastes from the workout. Water contributes several health benefits and can prevent headaches and reduce muscle aches related to your exercise routines.


When you work out, especially when it comes to weight training it is important to give your body extra protein to help your muscles repair themselves. Protein is one of the nutrients that your body can’t produce without breaking down muscle to get it. If you work out at a high level and neglect your protein intake you can cause more harm than good to your muscles and cause weakness instead of increasing your strength. Consider that most animal proteins are also high in fat. Plant proteins are incomplete. You must combine them to get all of the amino acids your body needs. Whey protein is a healthy option and can be mixed with your water or other beverages to give you that boost you may need. Consuming protein in this form may also help to reduce your cravings and help you to feel full longer which will also help contribute to your thin and trim waistline.


Choose an activity plan that works for you, including muscle training, and be sure to add in extra water and protein and make your way to a healthy lifestyle.