Regular exercise is necessary to improve the immune system, physical endurance, maintain body weight, increase muscle mass and strength, and lower blood pressure. But how much exercise should be done per week, and is there a measure? Yes, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends an exercise chart by age that we will share below.
Exercising has become a necessity, especially during the pandemic, and certainly after it. The confinement, stress and physical and emotional health problems derived from this complicated time, made exercise become a kind of therapy and the best investment to take care of your health. It only requires effort and time.
Something important is that exercise itself needs a certain intensity. It is not just a matter of walking to the bakery and saying to yourself: “I have already done my exercise for the day”. No, physical activity requires a certain discipline and intensity, and this is where the vigorousness of the exercise plays an important role.
The intensity of physical exercise, as this CNN article explains, is measured in metabolic equivalents (mets) and, to be considered vigorous, the effort must be greater than 6 mets. For example, brisk walking would be equivalent to about 2.5 mets, walking at a very fast pace to a maximum of about 4.5 mets. Swimming translates to about 6 mets, playing a soccer game 7 mets, jogging (8km/h) 8 mets and athletics, such as running at 5min/km, about 12 mets. Understanding that intensity is key for exercise to have a positive effect on health, we will now know how long we should exercise? The WHO’s answer varies according to age.
Children and young people from 5 to 17 years old.
For this group, it is not difficult to do sports, as they play a lot. Whether it’s a ball in the playground or a soccer game at school, they are already moving and that’s a good thing. In this range, exercise is key to the formation of muscles and cardiorespiratory functions, and much depends on the habits formed at this time to have a healthy lifestyle in adulthood, so it is important to encourage children to exercise frequently.
The WHO recommends that children and young people between 5 and 17 years of age should perform 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise daily. It is important to include activities such as cycling, basketball, soccer, and similar activities that strengthen muscles and bones, to ensure the healthy growth of the child.
Adults 18 to 64 years of age
For adults in this group, physical activity is classified as recreational or leisure activities, walking or cycling, household chores that require effort (vacuuming, sweeping, among others), or scheduled exercise routines such as jogging or going to the gym.
In this range, the amount of weekly exercise is 180 minutes. Until 2020, it was 150 minutes, but because of the pandemic and what it triggered in the population, 30 minutes a week was raised, since it has been found that physical inactivity can increase the risk of death from COVID-19. Those 180 minutes need at least 80 minutes to be vigorous to improve health in this group.
If you are a Saludsa client over 18 years of age, you have access to Vitality, the most successful wellness program in the world, which through the Vitality app tracks physical activity and rewards the user with weekly medals to claim different prizes such as sporting goods, coupons for Tipti, Juan Valdez drinks or movie tickets; monthly prizes such as cashback for the Garmin watch purchased within the app with a 25% discount and the best prize is the cashback of up to 20% of the annual payment of the prepaid medicine plan for meeting the goals. Another benefit, just to meet the 180 minutes a week of exercise recommended by the WHO, is the Saludsa Vitality Gym, a free gym to access virtual classes.
People aged 65 and over
This age group, which already has time to rest and enjoy, also needs a high level of activity to combat the diseases that come with the wear and tear of the organism. That is why the WHO recommends 300 minutes of physical activity per week and 75 of those should be vigorous. It does not have to be 75 in a row, but walking 30 minutes softly and 20 minutes intensely, and there you have the mix to have positive effects on health.