Exercise & Fitness – Harvard Health

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Exercising regularly, every day if possible, is the single most important thing you can do for your health. In the short term, exercise helps to control appetite, boost mood, and improve sleep. In the long term, it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, and many cancers. […]

Exercising regularly, every day if possible, is the single most important thing you can do for your health. In the short term, exercise helps to control appetite, boost mood, and improve sleep. In the long term, it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, and many cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following:

For adults of all ages

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise like running (or an equivalent mix of both) every week.  It’s fine to break up exercise into smaller sessions as long as each one lasts at least 10 minutes.
  • Strength-training that works all major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—at least two days a week.  Strength training may involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in which your body weight furnishes the resistance.

For pregnant women

The guidelines for aerobic exercise are considered safe for most pregnant women. The CDC makes no recommendation for strength training. It’s a good idea to review your exercise plan with your doctor.

For children

At least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, most of which should be devoted to aerobic exercise. Children should do vigorous exercise and strength training, such as push-ups or gymnastics, on at least three days every week.

Exercise & Fitness Articles

Healthy habits mean more disease-free years

An observational study published online Jan. 8, 2020, by The BMJ suggests that people who follow four or five healthy habits have an additional decade of disease-free living, compared with people who don’t follow any healthy lifestyle habits.

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Understanding acute and chronic inflammation

Inflammation plays an essential role in healing and injury repair and is an integral part of the way a person’s immune system keeps the body safe and healthy. Some inflammation is good. Too much is often harmful. The goal is to recognize when inflammation is merely doing its job, and when it can potentially cause problems.

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Core Exercises: Pelvic Curl

Harvard fitness expert Michele Stanten takes you through a simple exercise to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve your balance.

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Core Exercises: Diagonal Opposite Arm and Leg Raise

Harvard fitness expert Michele Stanten takes you through a simple exercise to tighten your abs, strengthen your back,and improve your balance. 

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Core Exercises: Knee Tuck on Stability Ball

Harvard fitness expert Michele Stanten takes you through a simple exercise to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve your balance.

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Boredom busters to revamp your exercise routine

When an exercise regimen becomes tedious, there are several ways to make it more interesting. Examples include adding challenging moves, such as a lunge that ends with raising dumbbells overhead, and pairing exercise with other interesting activities, such as hiking and photography or walking while listening to music or a favorite podcast. If adjusting an exercise routine doesn’t increase interest, it may be time to try a brand-new exercise, such as ballroom dance, shadow boxing, step aerobics, or tai chi.

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Don’t take back pain sitting down

Pain when sitting can be caused by a number of common problems, including problems with the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the back. Lying down can help the pain temporarily, but the goal should be to get up and move as soon as possible. People should see a doctor if your pain is extremely severe, if it comes back after getting better, or if it occurred after an injury.

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Heart disease and cancer risk may be linked

People with a high risk of heart disease also may be at risk for cancer, as both conditions share many risk factors, such as poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and smoking.

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Run for a healthier life

New research has found that running for about an hour per week can offer many health benefits and it does not matter how far or fast you run during this period. For people who are hesitant about taking up running, adopting a simple run/walk program can help many novices ease into running no matter their fitness level.

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What is inflammation, and why is it dangerous?

Chronic inflammation inside the body occurs when the immune response goes awry. It’s thought to contribute to a number of diseases, but it may be controlled using diet and exercise.

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