Physical activity for sedentary people, goals and recommendations

exercise recommendations for sedentary peopleOne of the most controversial and confusing areas in our social life is how much and what type of physical activity should be done for health-related and increased performance benefits. There is much confusion in this field, because recommendations and prescriptions differ for individuals depending on their current activity and fitness levels, health status and desired performance achievements. Different schemes and routines have to be composed for sedentary people to reduce risks of some major health problems, another with cardiorespiratory improvements in active adults and a hole different situation is when training professional athletes.

According to some general recommendations, people who are leading sedentary lifestyles should consider at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity performed daily, to reduce the risks of heart disease and other health problems.

Exercise Recommendations for Sedentary People

A sedentary individual is one who does not participate in regular physical activity, or is unable to walk more than a few minutes without discomfort or fatigue.

Physical activity goal:
To get physically active and perform at least 30 minutes of daily moderate physical work/exercise.

Health related fitness goal:
To enhance metabolism and functional living.
To reduce risks of developing heart diseases.
To reduce excess body fat mass in terms of reaching healthier weight.

Screening prior to activity (adapted from ACSM guidelines):
Do you have or are you experiencing any of the following?
a) Heart condition that a physician told you limits activity;
b) Chest pain during activity;
c) Chest pain during last month when not doing activity;
d) Dizziness and a loss of balance;
e) Loss of consciousness;
f) Problems with joints or bones, which can be made worse with increased activity;
g) Are you on medications due to blood pressure or other heart condition;
h) Another reason that may stop you from doing physical activity.

If you regularly experience one or more of these conditions, you should contact your physician for advice, guidance and assistance before changing your physical activity levels.

Recommended activity “Exercise Light”:
Perform at least 30 minutes of walking or similar low-impact activities, like cycling or swimming, on daily basis. Changes in physical activity levels should be slow and gradual. Start slowly with short, lower-intensity activity, and gradually increase the distance and intensity. Also remember to increase the amount of physical activity you perform as part of your everyday living routine (e.g., walking, climbing stairs, gardening, house cleaning, etc.). Perform flexibility exercises on regular basis.

In Conclusion

1. Sedentary people should incorporate flexibility exercises on regular daily basis. Flexibility exercising should be done by moving all joints through a full range of motion. Most important static stretches are for the spinal column and especially for the lower back and thigh area.
2. Aerobic exercises are also recommended as a daily participation. The average duration should be at least for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity work/exercise.
3. Before and after workout, respectively 5 minutes of warm-up and 5 minutes of cool-down are advisable.

At the beginning of a typical program designed to increase the physical activity of sedentary people, the emphasis is on the improvement of the cardiorespiratory system and physical abilities. After a consistent exercise routine, significant results are usually expected to appear after the sixth month. To further increase performance and improve physical fitness, more exercises of different types should be included.

Edward T. Howley, PhD: University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B. Don Franks, PhD: Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. Health Fitness Instructor’s Handbook THIRD EDITION 1997.

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