How Much Exercise Does Your Family Really Need?
Grandparents and Older Relatives
If you’re a grown-up who’s generally overwhelmed by what you think it takes to stay in shape, these new guidelines may prompt you to unearth your sneaks: Broken down, those two and a half hours of moderate activity weekly mean just 22 minutes a day of walking around the neighborhood.
“Twenty-two minutes will improve the health of people at a low to moderate level of fitness,” says fitness expert Calabrese. “If adults are sedentary, they can see cardiovascular improvements in 22 minutes.” But, she warns, less than a half hour of leisurely walking is not a big calorie burner, so it cannot be relied upon alone for fat loss or performance benefits.
Looking to lose a few pounds? Double that time and pick up your pace. Breaking a serious sweat (referred to as “vigorous aerobic activity” in the Guidelines) offers twice the benefits as a leisurely walking routine does, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. So you could shoot for 22 daily minutes of living room dance parties, runs with a baby jogger, and jump rope sessions. Plus, heartier workouts mean more health benefits. And that’s especially important for parents who put their children’s well-being before their own. “If they don’t take time for exercise now, they’ll take time for illness and disease later,” Calabrese says. And what parent wouldn’t want to deter that?
Studies show breaking up your workout into chunks throughout your day can be as effective as trying to chisel out a consecutive half-hour or more. “For example, you can bike ride for 10 minutes in the morning, walk for 10 minutes at lunch, and jog for 10 minutes at night,” Calabrese says. And these changes to your exercise routines don’t just benefit your waistline. “When parents set the example, children will cheerfully follow their lead,” Calabrese says.
How to motivate moms and dads:
- Get inspired by these Olympian moms
- What’s your fitness style? Take our quiz!
- Who might make the best fitness buddy for you? We show you how to find out.
- Check out our Mom and Dad Fitness Guide.
Not only will regular exercise benefit older adults’ overall health, but it also can give them the energy and strength they need to keep up with their grandkids! The Guidelines say to shoot for two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity (or one and a quarter hours of intense movement) weekly—but only as their abilities allow.
Older adults should check with their doctors before embarking on, say, a new cross-country skiing or bicycling regimen, especially if there’s a history of falling or other balance issues. But as long as regular activity feels comfortable, Grandma or Grandpa will benefit!
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