Voluntary Muscular Activity

The American College of Sports Medicine position on the recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardio respiratory and muscular fitness in healthy adults is:

  1. Frequency of training: 3 to 5 days per week
  2. Intensity of training: 60 to 90% of maximum heart rate or 50 to 85% of maximum oxygen uptake or maximum heart rate reserve.
  3. Duration of training: 20 to 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity. Duration is dependent on the intensity of the activity; thus, lower intensity should be conducted over a longer period of time. Lower to moderate intensity activity of longer duration is recommended for the non-athletic adult. 
  4. Mode of activity: any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmical and aerobic in nature, i.e., walking, hiking, running/jogging, cycling, cross-country skiing, dancing, jumping rope, rowing, stair climbing, swimming, and skating.
  5. Resistance training:Strength training of a moderate intensity, sufficient to develop and maintain fat free weight, should be an integral part of an adult fitness program. One set of 8 to 12 repetitions of 8 to 10 exercises that condition the major muscle groups at least 2 days per week is the recommended minimum.

Summary:  The combination of frequency, intensity, and duration of consistent exercise has been found to be effective for producing a training effect. The interaction of these factors produces the overload stimulus. In general, the lower the stimulus, the lower the training effect, and the greater the stimulus, the greater the training effect. As a result of specificity of training and the need for maintaining muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility of the major muscle groups, a well-rounded training program including resistance training and flexibility exercises is recommended.

These recommendations should be used in the context of an individual’s needs, goals, and initial abilities. The important factor is to design a program that provides the proper amount of physical activity to attain maximal benefit at the lowest risk. Emphasis should be placed on factors that result in permanent lifestyle change and encourage a lifetime of physical activity.

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