Exercise can’t erase years but can help to slow down the effects of ageing. Physical fitness is one of the most important things you can do to improve your mental and physical health.
“Physical Fitness helps lower the risk of chronic diseases and lower blood Pressure . It can also reduce anxiety and depression symptoms among some people,” Scott Cheatham PhD, DPT, professor in kinesiology at California State University Dominguez Hills.
While fitness won’t change how many candles are on your birthday cake, it could make you functionally years younger. “If you’re fit, you can endeavor to have the health of somebody 10 to 15 years younger,” says Michele Olson, PhD, senior clinical professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL.
But what does “fit” actually mean? It turns out that it is a broad term with many meanings. And it doesn’t mean you have to look like an Olympian.
In general, it means “being able to have muscle strength, endurance and power, as well as joint mobility and overall flexibility to complete tasks or physical activities without undue tiredness or extreme effort.” Cheatham says.
How do you get there? What benchmarks are there to help you determine whether you’re physically fit? These are the questions experts answer.
What It Takes to Get Fit
It’s more doable than you may think. The U.S. government has released its latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
” These guidelines are a guideline for all individuals and every person should try to follow or exceed them,” Cheatham states.
According to the guidelines, adults should do:
- At least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (like brisk walking or raking your yard) or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (such as running or taking a hard fitness class) every week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities for all major muscle groups two or more days a week.
- Sit less and move more throughout the day.
Doing this will lower your risk of many health problems — and push back against what the years will do if you take no action.