A new study by U.S. and Australian researchers has raised the exercise and fitness benchmarks currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The team says that stepping up the exercise regimen is necessary to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and stroke.
The benefits of being physically active have been medically proven. Exercise is crucial for weight loss and to fight chronic diseases and conditions. It boosts energy, improves mood, promotes better sleep, and improves overall wellbeing.
According to the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, all healthy adults ages 18 to 65 should perform moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, three days a week. WHO recommends that adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or perform at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate – and vigorous-intensity activity.
The new Queensland study calls for a five-fold increase in WHO’s physical activity level guidelines. The researchers recommend that an equivalent of 15 to 20 hours of brisk walking or 6 to 8 hours of running a week can reduce risks of breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The study was based on data collected from six countries – China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa – during 2007-2016.
Lead researcher Dr Lennert Veerman says, “WHO advises a minimum total physical activity level of 10 metabolic equivalent of tasks (MET) hours a week, but the study found health gains accumulated up to levels of 50 to 70 MET-hours a week.”
Metabolism refers to the conversion of food into energy and the lower the level of physical activity, the lower the metabolic rate. For instance, watching television has a MET value of 1 and strolling at a leisurely pace has a MET 2 value. Vigorous running is an example of MET 8 activity.
According to Dr Veerman, most people could achieve 10-MET hours a week by walking for two and a half hours or running for 75 minutes per week. They can achieve 50 MET hours by incorporating additional daily activity by being more active at work, doing housework, using stairs where possible, gardening or running, and walking and cycling. The key is to make exercise a daily activity rather than treating it as a chore.
In addition to enhancing health, exercise also improves the pain threshold and is an important element in pain management. In professional New York rehabilitation centers, specialists from various disciplines work together to develop customized therapies and exercise programs to help patients suffering from various conditions to return quickly to a healthy and active lifestyle.