Exercising Your Way to Better Health

Young happy athletic woman listening music on earphones while jogging in the park.

By: Erica Sommers, DPT at Therapy Associates of Denton

We all know exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that making a habit of exercising regularly can reduce your chances of developing a chronic illness? Getting up and moving for even a few minutes a day has numerous benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has long been credited with being the “gold standard” group as it relates to making physical activity recommendations to reduce instances of chronic illness in all populations. This evidence-based organization publishes a handful of peer-reviewed journals and numerous books on various topics regarding the latest research on exercise and physical activity recommendations for optimal health of individuals.  

The latest update to the guidelines for physical activity in healthy adults was done in 2018 and is summarized below: 

So, what exactly does this mean?

A simple way to gauge if you are participating in moderate or vigorous activity is by differentiating if you can hold a conversation with another individual or not. For example, during moderate intensity exercise, you would be able to hold a conversation, but not be able to sing due to being out of breath. During vigorous intensity exercise, you would be unable to say more than a few words without needing to stop and take a few breaths. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2022)

Moderate Intensity vs. Vigorous Intensity Physical Activity

What an individual considers moderate and vigorous can vary based on health conditions and physical fitness. However, as a rule, some exercises are more intense than others. Some examples of moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity include but are not limited to:

Moderate intensity activities

Vigorous intensity activities

Main Takeaways

Exercise is vital to optimizing health and reducing the burden of chronic disease. There are many ways to participate in physical activity and meet the listed recommendations to improve overall wellness. The most important thing is to find an activity that is enjoyable and sustainable, meaning that you will want to participate in it for many years to come. Be creative, and have fun!


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