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how active should I be? a cheat sheet for heart rate, steps, & more!

a cheat sheet for heart rate, steps, & more

It’s no secret that adults are generally less physically active than kids. As a kid, you might have found a game of tag to be exhilarating, but now, you couldn’t imagine chasing your buddies around the yard. This kind of game might feel boring, even strange. Why is that? 

To begin with, adults’ tastes are more complex than childrens’, and a simple game of tag doesn’t exactly ignite the synapses. Additionally, adult bodies generally aren’t as flexible, agile or energetic, and adults’ free time is much more limited. Plus, many stereotypically “adult” activities are sedentary in nature: responding to emails, going to happy hour, watching a mini-series, etc.

Regardless of why adults engage in fewer physical activities than kids, one thing is clear: a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous to your physical — and mental — health. Luckily, eseo can help connect adults with sports and fitness opportunities that engage both the body and mind. Keep reading to learn how much and what kind of physical activities you need to stay healthy. 

Ready to stop staring at the screen and start engaging in physical activities that will improve your health? eseo is your one-stop shop for sports resources in Philadelphia and beyond. Visit us online and start playing like you used to. 

Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

After a long day at the office, all you want to do is sink into your recliner and play video games or watch a TV series — what’s wrong with that? This kind of lifestyle (with little-to-no exercise and a lot of lounging) is called a sedentary lifestyle, and it is extremely bad for your health. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle increases all causes of mortality and can double your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity. 

A lack of physical activity can make your body feel worse over time, atrophy your muscles and cause chronic pain. It can also worsen depression and mental health issues. Unfortunately, it’s a widespread issue; experts estimate that one-third of the global population ages 15 and older don’t get enough physical activity. 

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Exercise Recommendations for Adults

Here’s the thing: you don’t actually need tons of exercise to stay healthy. You don’t have to join an expensive gym, buy a bike or force yourself to start running; you just have to get moving. The best part? Even if you don’t meet the recommendations, every little bit of exercise goes toward improving your overall health. 

Exercise Minutes Per Week

A small amount of physical exercise will offer a small amount of health benefits, which is better than nothing. However, if you’re interested in substantial health benefits, you should follow the exercise guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): 

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
  • Adults can also do an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity exercises to reach the same goal. 
  • Adults can get additional health benefits if they do more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. 
  • Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups at least two days a week, as these exercises provide distinct additional benefits. 

According to HHS, an inactive person is someone who doesn’t engage in any moderate or vigorous-intensity activities, whereas an insufficiently active person does less than 150 minutes. An active person does the equivalent of 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and a highly active person exceeds 300 minutes.

Intensity Level

More strenuous activities take more energy to perform, which is why the HHS separates activities by these three intensity levels: 

  1. Light-intensity activities, like walking leisurely, cooking or doing light household chores 
  2. Moderate-intensity activities, like fast walking, playing double tennis or raking the yard
  3. Vigorous-intensity activities, like jogging, carrying heavy groceries upstairs, shoveling snow or participating in a strenuous aerobics class

Exercise intensity correlates with how hard the activity feels to you. It is expressed with heavy breathing, sweating, increased heart rate and muscle soreness. To figure out the intensity level of the exercise you’re doing, you need to pay attention to two things: how you feel and your heart rate. If the activity feels really difficult, it's a high-intensity activity to you; however, this can vary from person to person. A more objective way to measure intensity level is to monitor your heart rate. 

Heart Rate

When you exercise a lot, your physical activities get easier to perform. As a result, it can be difficult to know whether you're still getting a good, healthy workout. One of the best ways to find out the intensity level of your workout is by monitoring your heart rate. Before doing this, you need to understand these three heart rate terms: 

  1. Resting heart rate, the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re not physically active. The average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). 
  2. Maximum heart rate, the highest bpm you can have while still staying in the safe zone. Find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. 
  3. Target heart rate, an ideal range of numbers that reflect how many times your heart should beat per minute when you’re having a healthy workout. Your target heart rate should be 50-80% of your maximum safe heart rate. 

When you’re ready to measure your heart rate, you need to have a watch that tracks seconds. Find your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side. Count how many times your heart beats in a minute. You can do this more quickly by counting how many times your heart beats in 30 seconds and multiplying by two. 

Daily Steps

The average American walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps each day, between one and a half and two miles. This may sound like a lot of movement, but it falls well below the recommended guideline of 10,000 daily steps. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that participants who took 8,000 steps a day reduced their risk of dying from any cause by 50%. Those who took 12,000 steps a day lowered their risk by 65%. 

Get Fit with eseo

Physical fitness experts all seem to agree that when it comes to exercise, some is better than none. So don’t be afraid to go slow, and remember to be kind to yourself. If you’re ready to improve your physical health but don’t know where to start, don’t worry — eseo’s got your back. We’ll help you find the best sports resources to match your fitness goals. Whether you’re looking for scenic hiking trails, a basketball pickup game or affordable kickboxing lessons, we’ve got you covered. Questions? Contact us online today.  

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a cheat sheet for heart rate, steps, & more