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Exercise Guidelines... but what do I do?

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the go-to for evidence-based, exercise guidelines. Their recommendations are based on the most up to date science and perspectives from health professionals and are commonly used and recognized in Canada.

So what are these exercise guidelines and how do I implement them into my daily living? I usually refer to these basic guidelines more as a "training for life" program. "Training for life" means that even though you may not be interested in training for a marathon or bike race, following these basic exercise guidelines are still very important for a number of reasons... By following these guidelines we are basically doing our part in preventing all the negative crap that comes from being inactive; high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, weight gain, joint stiffness, etc etc the list goes on.

If you are an otherwise healthy adult between the age of 18 and 65 and want to be more active and take control of your health, the ASCM recommends that you participate in the following:

  • Aerobic: Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days per week, or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 min on three days per week.

  • Strength: Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days per week.

Okay so that's great.. the issue is that most people will read this and understand the words but are still confused as to how to implement this into their daily life. So if you are one of them, this post is for you!

Aerobic is a bit more straight forward. Choose a cardiorespiratory activity that you enjoy doing (ex. walking, cycling, jogging, hiking, swimming...) and you have 2 options:

a) Do this 5 days / week for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity: meaning that you you can hold a conversation but a little short of breath


b) Do this 3 days / week for 20 minutes at a vigorous intensity: meaning that you can just barely hold a conversation, you are huffing and puffing. Picture yourself hiking up a steep hill, that sort of breathing could be considered vigorous intensity.

Now for Strength. This is where I find people needing a little more guidance because it's not as natural. Strength training doesn't have to mean going to the gym, so if you consider yourself "not a gym person" that still doesn't exempt you from this section. Strength training can come in various forms, but if you are working at a desk all day and don't have much time, a simple circuit style, 20 minute, full body workout can check this box.

There are many different ways to go about this depending on your goals, but if you are simply wanting to "train for life" here is an example that is designed to get you started, no equipment necessary. After a few weeks, adding load and progressing the exercises would be ideal, but one thing at a time here!

Eva's Sample Major Muscle Group Strength Circuit: (videos for the more detailed exercises)

1 set = Squat, Bridge, Plank, Push Up (modified), Triceps Push Up

Complete 3 sets.

1) Squat: Keep weight in your heels, try to go to 90 degrees but if you can't get there right away, stop before losing your form.

10 reps

2) Bridge: weight in heels, control on the way down.

10 reps

3) Plank: Belly button to spine.

Hold this position 20-30 seconds.

4) Push up: If you can't do a full push up, then I suggest you try this 3 step version rather than staying on your knees the whole time.

10 reps

5) Triceps Push up: You can use a chair or couch instead of the windowsill. keep your elbows close to the body. Bending your legs would make this easier.

10 reps

Add some water breaks in-between and woot woot, there you have it! Do this 2-3 days a week and your right on track with the guidelines. Remember this is a general program, if you have any specific aches, pains or areas of concern please reach out before beginning. All exercises can, and should be modified to suit you.

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