Written by: Dr. Colton Plunkett, PT, DPT
As we all start off the new year, many of us will likely be thinking more about our health and fitness. While I don’t want to harp on New Year’s resolutions, which only about 9% of people complete each year, I do want to talk about easy and affordable lifestyle changes. When making these changes there can be many things that come to mind that may hinder them from becoming a reality such as time, cost, or availability. One form of physical activity can check all of these boxes, and is beneficial for anyone regardless of their current activity level or training experience is moderate to high intensity cardio.
When most people think of cardio they likely picture themselves on an endless and agonizing run on a treadmill in a poorly lit and crowded gym(Gyms are unbelievably crowded in the New Year…). While that is a beneficial way to train your cardiovascular system, it may not be the best way. There have been multiple studies over the past decade that have shown the benefits of outdoor exercise, usually cardio such as walking, jogging, and running, over that of indoor exercise. Now there have been two different studies from 2022 and 2023 that show even more benefits of exercising in a green environment rather than in an urban one. Simply put, you will benefit more from going for a walk or run on a trail through a park rather than on the street in the city. If you live in Huntsville, Madison, or surrounding areas you are in luck as there are countless trails like this that you may drive by on your way to or from work each day.
Going back to my reference of exercise intensity earlier, here are some simple recommendations from ACSM. If you prefer to workout at a moderate intensity (Borg RPE scale – 12-14, 50-70% of age predicted HR Max), you will need to complete 150 minutes of exercise per week. For example, that could be three, 50 minute workouts per week.
Many of the studies mentioned earlier showed the most benefit from high intensity, short duration exercise. If you prefer to workout at a high intensity exercise (Borg RPE scale – 15-17, 80-95% of age predicted HR Max), you will need to complete 75 minutes of exercise per week. For example, that could be three, 25 minute workouts per week. You are only recommended to meet one of these guidelines, either moderate or high intensity, it does not have to be both.
However, in addition to aerobic exercise, ACSM also recommends strength training for all major muscle groups at least 2 times per week. There are a variety of different workout splits that you can do to meet this standard. Some examples include:
Full body workouts: 2 workouts per week, about 8 different movements
Upper body, lower body split: 4 workouts per week
Push, pull, legs split: 6 workouts per week
These workouts can add up, requiring a lot of time throughout the week. However, these are just recommendations and any exercise is better than no exercise. I repeat any exercise is better than no exercise.
Personally, I get in three moderate intensity outdoor walks per week and four strength training workouts per week. The strength training split I personally like the most is the push, pull, legs split. I do not meet the ACSM standard for each muscle group every week, but it is how I have seen the most improvement for myself in 8 years of training. All this to say, these recommendations can definitely be a goal, but we all need to consider our level of busyness and personalize them.
As always, feel free to contact NesinFIT as our team of therapists will be glad to help you recover and meet your goals! For more information, visit our website at www.nesinfit.com