How much physical activity do you need?
At the YMCA of Greater Toronto, we respect and admire the expert advice provided by our partner health charities. That’s why we’re excited to bring you even more great reading material from the team at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (Heart and Stroke).
To maintain heart health, a little physical activity goes a long way. Regular physical activity is a great way to keep your heart healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle. But if you’re not active now, don’t worry. You don’t have to suddenly embark on an Olympic-training program. The Bright Spot is the perfect place to start your journey, and the options are almost endless!
Heart and Stroke’s recommendations
Heart and Stroke recommends adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. The activity doesn’t have to be non-stop, such as an aerobics class. You can do 10 minutes or more at a time throughout the day to reach your daily total. For example, take a brisk 10-minute walk mid-day, play for 10 minutes with your grandkids (if you are able to see them safely during COVID-19 restrictions), and then spend some time participating in one of our many Bright Spot activities like Yoga, BodyFit or Tai Chi!
If you’re short on time, remember that any physical activity is better than none. However, the more active you are, the greater the health benefits. The bonus: physical activity will give you more energy and help you cope better with stress and low mood.
Older adults should add muscle and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least two days per week to enhance balance and prevent falls. The Bright Spot is now offering a brand new class that will help you learn how to do just that. Try our Weights For Bone Health class every Friday at 9:00 am.
Just as a variety of foods is important for healthy eating, a variety of activities is important for healthy living. Choose physical activities that require endurance, strength and flexibility.
Endurance activities are continuous activities such as walking, cycling and tennis. They’re especially beneficial for your heart, lungs and circulatory system.
Strength activities, such as carrying groceries, heavy yard work or snow shovelling and weight training can help to strengthen muscles and bones and improve posture. Aim for at least two times a week.
Flexibility activities like yoga, tai chi, and even housework will keep your muscles relaxed and your joints mobile. Increased flexibility later in life will allow you to continue to tie your shoes, reach the top shelf in your kitchen and clip your toenails. Try our Functional Movement class for specialized instruction.
Balance activities you can do at home include standing on one foot or standing on your toes while holding onto the back of a chair. As you progress, steady yourself with one finger, then try it with no hands. When you are really steady, try the exercise with your eyes closed. Any exercise that strengthens your lower body is also a great addition.
Be sure to vary your activity from light, moderate and vigorous effort. And remember that it’s never too late to strengthen your body! Studies have found that weight training can reverse muscle weakness even among people in their 90s.
NOTE: Before starting a physical activity program, speak to your healthcare provider first to discuss what is right for you.