The US guidelines continue: For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
Calisthenics. There's nothing fancy about a calisthenics workout, but just because it's basic doesn't mean it's not effective. A 2017 study in Isokinetics and Exercise Science put a group of untrained individuals through a calisthenics program to test the effectiveness of an exercise method that uses no equipment. Participants did a brief workout consisting of four or five exercises three days a week for eight weeks. At the end of the trial, all participants had significant improvements in posture, strength and body composition.
Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines, which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and various anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
Physical fitness has always been important part of life. It is theorised that when people left a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and formed fixed communities based around agriculture that physical fitness levels declined. This is not to say that levels of physical labour decreased but that the type of work undertaken was not necessarily as conducive to a general level of fitness. As such, regimented fitness regimes were either invented or became more common. This was especially the case in classical civilisations such as Ancient Greece and Rome. In Greece especially physical fitness was considered to be an essential component of a healthy life and it was the norm for men to frequent a gymnasium. Physical fitness regimes were also considered to be of paramount importance in a nation's ability to train soldiers and field an effective military force. Partly for these reasons, organised fitness regimes have been in existence throughout known history and evidence of them can be found in many countries.
Weight-Bearing Exercise. You don't necessarily need to lift weights to build muscle and strength. Any weight-bearing activity that forces your body to work against gravity can make you stronger. This is especially true if you aren't used to exercising, because your muscles will be more challenged by activities than someone who is stronger and more experienced. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include:
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills, and on age- or health-related needs such as bone health. Many sources also cite mental, social and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three points, which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging. Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.