The last time the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) issued a position statement on the subject of cardiovascular and resistance exercise for overall conditioning was in 1989. In that statement the organization recommended doing aerobic exercise three to five times per week
for 20 to 60 minutes per session at an intensity of 50 to 85 percent of your heart rate reserve. The recommendation for resistance training was twice per week. Just recently, however, the ACSM, along with the United States Centers for Disease Control and the President's Council on
Physical Fitness and Sports, made some new recommendations about exercise-not for physical conditioning but rather to prevent disease.
All three groups concluded that there's an "epidemic of inactivity" that has negative effects on health in our society is estimated that fewer than 22 percent of all adults get enough exercise to realize its health benefits. Note, however, that the levels of activity it takes to reap the health benefits of exercise are below the levels that bring minimal cardiovascular and muscular conditioning.
Consequently, the ACSM and company are now recommending minimal activity that is less than the previous recommendation-a total of 30 minutes per day for most days of the week. Because most Americans fail to meet even these guidelines, the organizations suggest that people engage in short periods of activity, from walking up stairs to gardening or raking leaves, along with their other daily exercise activities for a combined total of 30 minutes a day.
It's hard to believe that our society has become so sedentary that, rather than setting reasonable yet attainable goals for fitness and health, we must continuously reduce the recommended levels in order to help Americans change their lifestyles. Fortunately, most of the people who read this column are already meeting the suggested activity levels-if not the levels given in the 1989 position-and find it difficult to fathom why such a large segment of the population isn't getting even the minimum amount of leisure-time activity recommended for good health.