Material adapted from ACSM's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health by the American College of Sports Medicine. (Copyright 2011 by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.) Excerpted by permission of Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. http://www.humankinetics.com/.
A balanced exercise program is like a sturdy three-legged stool. If one leg is weak or too short, the stool isn't stable. In the same way, ignoring one of the exercise components will put your fitness program out of balance. Each health-related component of physical fitness — aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, and flexibility and balance — is important and must be considered. Although you may have a slightly different focus than someone else, to meet your own personal health or fitness goals, you need to address each one of these components.
Aerobic fitness is also known as cardiorespiratory endurance. Aerobic activities are those that require oxygen to provide energy and are typically described as involving large-muscle used in a repeated or rhythmic fashion. Probably the most popular aerobic exercise is walking. Other examples are jogging, running, bicycling, swimming, using aerobic equipment (e.g., elliptical machines, stair climbers), tennis, and team sports (e.g., basketball, soccer). When you are engaged in these activities, you can feel your breathing rate go up as your body strives to bring needed oxygen to your working muscles.
You should engage in aerobic exercise three to five days per week. The intensity (i.e., how hard you are working) will depend on your fitness level. See table below.
Aerobic and Resistance Training Targets Based on Activity Status
|Activity Status||Aerobic Training Focus||Resistance Training Focus|
|Beginner (inactive with no or minimal physical activity and thus deconditioned)|| No prior activity: Focus is on light to moderate level activity for 20-30 minutes over the course of the day. Accumulating time in 10-minute bouts is an option. Overall, your target is 60-150 minutes per week. |
Minimal prior activity (i.e., once you have met the target level of 60-160 minutes): Focus is on light to moderate-level activity for 30-60 minutes per day. Accumulating time in 10-minute bouts is an option. Overall your target is 150-200 minutes per week.
|Select six exercises (one targeting each of the following muscle groups: hips and legs, chest, back, shoulders, low back, and abdominals. Begin with one set of 8-12 repititions twice per week. Your target is one or two sets of 8-12 repetitions done two or three days per week. (Note: For older adults, 10-15 repetitions per set are recommended.)|
|Intermediate (sporadically active but without an optimal exercise plan and thus moderately deconditioned)||Fair to average fitness: Focus is on moderate activity for 30-90 minutes per day. Overall, your target is 200-300 minutes per week.||Select 10 exercises (one targeting each of the following muscle groups: hips and legs, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, low back, and abdominals). Your target is two sets of 8-12 repetitions on two or three days per week. (Note: For older adults, 10-15 repetitions per set are recommended.)|
|Established (Regularly engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise)||Regular exercisers (moderate to vigorous): Focus is on moderate to vigorous-intensity activity for 30-90 minutes per day. Overall, your target is 200-300 minutes per week.||You can continue with the intermediate plan (but simply add more weight as you adapt), or you may want to consider splitting your workout and focusing more on specific muscle groups on a given day.|
Click here for ACSM's Program for Balanced Fitness (Part Two): Muscular Fitness
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN (6/12)
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