Many clients ask how much exercise should I be doing? It is a question that is often asked and not many people seem to be able to answer.
In many cases, injuries are caused by deconditioning and muscle atrophy, which leads to problems with pain and loss of physical function. It is important that people get sufficient exercise to maintain their level of function and current fitness levels, however it is important that people know how much activity they should be doing.
General Exercise Guidelines
The Australian Government department of health states that adults between the ages of 18-64 should accumulate a total of 300minutes of vigorous exercise per week, including completing specific muscle strengthening exercise on 2days. For people aged 65 years + it is recommended that people complete 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.
What is vigorous exercise?
Vigorous exercise is counted as exercise where you are breathing hard and fast, with a moderate increase in your heart rate.
What is moderate intensity exercise?
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song.
Is walking enough?
People often ask if walking is enough. If you are walking at a moderate intensity as described above, for 30 minutes per day, then you should be meeting recommended exercise guidelines for people aged 65 +. However, if your physio advises strengthening a muscle group or area, then walking is not sufficient.
How to build strength?
Strength is often recommended to rehabilitate an injury and protect an area of the body. Strength is built by placing the tissue under stress so that you are causing microscopic damage to the tissue. Once this damage occurs, the body will heal the area, making it stronger and able to withstand greater stresses in future. Our bodies have adapted to be able to cope with the demands of everyday activities, so it is important that when strengthening a muscle you are placing it under sufficient loads that are greater than what the body typically experiences.
If you are not meeting the recommended exercise guidelines including 2 sessions of muscle strengthening per week, you may be vulnerable to muscle loss or atrophy, and may be developing a greater risk of injury.
In summary, completing adequate levels of activity are important for maintaining physical functional and limiting the effects of injury. Physiotherapists are experts in instructing people on how to exercise in the presence of injury or pain. If you are unable to meet your activity levels due to injury, then ask the physio how to work around the injury whilst we help the body to heal.