There is no magic formula for physical activity. Different people need different amounts and there are countless ways to get active. You can start anytime and anywhere: outside, at home, on a field or court, or at a gym. You determine when, where and how much.
Benefits of physical activity are numerous and they include:
• increased energy
• reduced stress
• weight maintainance
• mood and confidence boosts
• improved sleep
• improved fitness
Physical activity also can help prevent and manage disease by lowering blood sugar levels, improving cardiovascular health, reducing back pain, and controlling frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
There’s no wrong way to do it, except to overdo it. Being active shouldn’t be painful, injurious or unfun. Exhaustion, extremely sore muscles, painful joints, and shortness of breath are the results of jumping in too hard and too fast. It is common for people to stop exercising because they get hurt, are afraid to get hurt, or think it doesn’t count unless it hurts. However, any amount of effort is a great start and every little bit counts.
Most good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Professional athletes include a warm up and a cool down as part of their sessions to achieve a higher level of physical activity and help prevent soreness or overworked muscles. If you want to exercise like a pro, read on.
Warming up prepares your body to begin your workout. It is beneficial because it:
This should be at a higher intensity than your warm up and cool down. There are different types of activities you can include during the main training portion of your workout. These include:
Cooling down can entail 5-10 minutes of slow walking, stretching, or other low-intensity movements. It is important to cool down after you workout because it:
Based on General Guidelines for an Exercise Prescription [ACSM]
Physical activity can help reduce stress, contribute to better quality sleep, improve mood, and much more! NYU resources and some creativity can help you fit exercise into a busy schedule.
Android, iOS, and Windows
12 exercises for a high intensity workout using only body weight, a chair, and a wall.
Android and iOS
Choose from over 100 workouts designed by Nike master trainers. Share your sessions with your friends and train together.
Android and iOS
Go from “couch potato”/beginner to a 5K runner in 8 weeks. Specifically designed for those who are first time runners.
Android and iOS
Personalized yoga workouts for anytime, anywhere designed in collaboration with powerhouse yogi Tara Stiles.
Android and Windows
One free simple but challenging workout per day. No equipment needed.
Android and iOS
Expert designed workouts and exercise database for those wanting to build muscle. Offered by www.bodybuilding.com
Android and iOS
Designed by and for Crossfitters, this is a daily sets of 4 new exercises pulled from a virtual deck of cards.
Android and iOS
High-intensity body weight workouts of any duration. Equipment-free with video demonstrations by real personal trainers.
A rhythm-based music service for power walking, spin class, running, biking, etc.
Exercise to songs with similar pacing so you can work out to the beat.
When it comes to physical activity and working out, don’t believe everything you hear. Let’s dispel some common myths you may encounter.
MYTH: Sports drinks are necessary after or before working out.
TRUTH: Unless you are running a marathon or are into extreme sports, water is a sufficient way to rehydrate after a workout. Sports drink have unnecessary added sugars, salt, and/or other chemicals.
MYTH: Anyone who works out should take vitamin supplements.
TRUTH: You do not have to take additional vitamins when you work out. If a medical professional has diagnosed you with a particular vitamin deficiency, it can be helpful to take supplements. However, whole and natural foods are the best sources of essential nutrients for most people.
MYTH: Food supplement shakes and sports bars increase your performance.
TRUTH: Supplemental shakes and bars can be fine as a treat or as meal replacements in a pinch, but they are full of extra calories and can undo the benefits of exercise. It is better to eat well-rounded meals to ensure you are getting all your nutrients. Stick to nuts, fruits, and veggies when you need quick snacks.
MYTH: Lifting heavy weights will bulk you up.
TRUTH: Unless you have a body with high levels of testosterone and are actively loading up on protein and extra calories, you will not dramatically increase your muscle mass and become bulky. Try using heavier weights with less repetitions rather than lighter weights with more repetition to strengthen your muscles and increase muscle endurance.
MYTH: If you are not drenched in sweat, you are not working hard enough.
TRUTH: Sweating is your body’s way of cooling you off when it gets hot. It is not necessarily an indicator of exertion. How much you sweat depends on temperature and humidity or your personal physiology. You can burn a significant amount of calories without breaking a sweat; for instance, when you walk or lift weights.
If you are new to exercise, everything about it may seem a little bit overwhelming, including the language. Here are a few terms you are likely to encounter along your way towards a fitter, healthier lifestyle.
AEROBIC ACTIVITY: prolonged continuous movement of large muscle groups; exercise that involves the body’s consumption of oxygen
CARDIO: endurance training that involves increased heart rate over extended periods
CIRCUIT TRAINING: a combination of 8 to 10 (on average) exercises (the “circuit”) completed one after the other with little or no rest in between, providing both strength and endurance training
ENDORPHINS: natural neurological chemicals with a pain-killing effect that can be released during long continuous workouts at a level of moderate to high intensity
FLEXIBILITY: the range of motion possible around a specific joint or series of articulations; can be improved by stretching.
FORM: refers to the way in which movements are performed, particularly in terms of resistance strength training (weights); good form helps prevent injury and maximizes the effect of the workout
INTENSITY: refers to how much work is being done while exercising; related to the type of fuel the body is using and what the body’s metabolism is like after the workout
INTERVAL TRAINING: repetitions of high intensity movements followed by periods of rest or low activity
STRENGTH TRAINING: the use of resistance (often in the form of weights) against muscular contraction to build strength, endurance, and size of skeletal muscles
TARGET HEART RATE ZONE: desired heart rate zone reached during aerobic exercise which enables one’s lungs and heart to benefit the most from the workout; varies based on physical condition, age, and previous training
Thinking of starting an exercise program?
Consider FREQUENCY, INTENSITY, TIME and TYPE (FITT).
It is recommended that the average healthy, able-bodied student engages in physical activity at least 3 days per week for general wellbeing. Aerobic fitness levels decrease after about 2 days of inactivity.
The level of physical effort required to build muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness depends on your
o heart and lung endurance
o muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility
The length of time you spend exercising depends on a lot of the same factors as the level of intensity. Try working out 10, 20, or 30 minutes at a time to gauge how you feel. As your fitness improves, gradually increase the duration of your workouts.
The CDC recommends getting between 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (e.g. running) and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (e.g. brisk walking).
Your choice of physical activity depends on what you want to achieve. It is a good idea to mix aerobic activity with stretching and muscle strengthening activities that target all of your major muscle groups
If you are living with a disability, talk with a health care provider who can give you information about what is appropriate for you.
Keep in mind that no matter how much, how intense, or what type, exercise has many benefits. These include: reducing your risk of disease, strengthening bones and muscles, and improving mental health and mood.
Check out this link for physical activity resources at NYU and beyond.
Stretch bands (also known as resistance bands) are great for working on strength and flexibility, giving your muscles a deeper stretch and adding intensity to your workout without adding weights. Stretch bands are versatile, lightweight, and portable, and they work for any fitness level. Give these exercises a try.
targets: front of arm (Biceps)
reps: 10, each arm
targets: back of arm (Triceps)
reps: 10, each leg
time: 30 seconds, each leg
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CDC Physical Activity and Health
The CDC’s information page about the many benefits of exercise
Tons of tips and workout ideas from Fitness
Check out Runner’s World magazine for and their motivation section