A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 8: Exercise Programming 170 Physical Activity Guidelines Although each component of fitness is important, some are arguably more important than others in terms of their role and impact on overall health and wellbeing. Those components of fitness deemed most important should receive priority when designing an effective exercise program. Most fitness experts agree that the three most important components of fitness are aerobic capacity (aka cardiovascular endurance or endurance), muscular strength and flexibility (to include mobility). In an effort to reduce disease risk and improve the quality of life, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has established and published physical activity guidelines for these three components of physical fitness. In essence, these guidelines provide the minimum frequency recommendations for endurance, strength and flexibility/mobility training. Specifically, the ACSM recommends a minimum of 30 minutes on 5 days per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 20 minutes on 3 days per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity on 2 or more days per week (ACSM, 2021). Similarly, the American Heart Association (AHA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week or a combination of both (AHA, 2021; CDC, 2020). Table 8.2 provides examples of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic activities (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020). Additionally, the ACSM, AHA, and CDC recommend a minimum of 2 days per week of strength training and 2-3 days per week of flexibility/mobility training (ACSM, 2021; AHA, 2021; CDC, 2020). Table 8.2. Examples of Moderate- and Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activities Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activities Brisk walking (e.g., ≥ 2.5 mph) Running Biking (e.g., < 10 mph) Biking (e.g., > 10 mph) Water aerobics Swimming laps Dancing (e.g., ballroom or social) Dancing (e.g., aerobic or swing) Tennis (e.g., doubles) Tennis (e.g., singles) - Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack - Jumping rope Remember, these recommendations represent the minimum amount of physical activity that should be performed per week. In some cases, more may be required. For example, an individual who only walks, jogs, or runs for exercise will likely have good endurance but may have poor strength or mobility.