Where on the Physical Activity Pyramid do Lifestyle Activities Belong?
You may remember the food pyramid from health class in elementary school. The food pyramid was a simple way to visualize the different food groups and how many servings from each group you should eat per day. Recently, the food pyramid has been updated to reflect a more realistic approach to eating. Now, the USDA recommends that we focus on consuming mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting our intake of processed foods, saturated fats, and sugars.
Similarly, the physical activity pyramid is a tool that can be used to visualize different types of physical activity and how much of each you should do per week. The bottom of the pyramid shows the most important physical activities one should do daily and how important they are. As the Pyramid narrows, the activities slowly become less important, and their average duration decreases compared to the bottom of the pyramid.
The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity AND two days of muscle-strengthening activities per week. Let’s take a look at where lifestyle activities fit into the physical activity pyramid.
What is The Physical Activity Pyramid?
The physical activity pyramid is broken down into four different categories:
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- Muscle-strengthening activities
- Bone-strengthening activities
As we mentioned before, the CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity AND two days of muscle-strengthening activities per week. Here are some examples and activity guidelines for adults in each category:
- Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activity: brisk walking (3 mph), water aerobics, biking (<10 mph)
- Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activity: running (>6 mph), swimming laps, HIIT workouts
- Muscle Strengthening Activities: lifting weights, push-ups, sit-ups
- Bone Strengthening Activities: jumping rope, running stairs, playing tennis.
Why is the Physical Activity Pyramid Important?
Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to live a healthier, happier life. Research shows that it increases your overall quality and lengthiness by helping with fitness. (As part of any diet), weight maintenance, or reduction in cases where there are obesity issues alongside chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, anxiety, etc.
It also helps maintain healthy bones & joints, which reduces risks for osteoporosis-related fractures. It doesn’t only affect our physical health but our mental well-being too! By staying active, we build confidence levels while improving moods across all departments – this will make sure every aspect of living feels better.
It also helps maintain different aspects of human health, such as:
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure
- Reduce risks of heart attack
- Increase confidence
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Improve fitness and muscle strength
- Reduce body fat
- Build and maintain bones and joints
- Improve flexibility and posture
Types of Physical Activities for Adults:
There are four types of Physical Activates for Adults: Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activity, Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activity, Muscle Strengthening Activities, and Bone Strengthening Activities.
- Aerobic Activity: Aerobic activity is any activity that makes your heart beat faster and makes you breathe harder. It helps in boosting your heart and lungs’ fitness. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic Activities include Walking, Jogging or running, Bicycling, Swimming, Tennis, or Hiking uphill.
- Muscle Strengthening Activities: Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles work harder than they’re used to. You should do them at least two days a week. Examples of Muscle Strengthening Activities are Lifting weights, Working with resistance bands, Doing calisthenics (push-ups, situps), doing Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling), and Climbing stairs.
- Bone Strengthening Activities: Bone-strengthening activities force your bones to work harder than they’re used to. It helps in maintaining and strengthening bones and muscles. You should do them at least three days a week. Examples of Bone Strengthening Activates are Jogging, Running, Hiking, Skipping, Dancing, and Weight Lifting.
- Balance and Flexibility: Balance and flexibility activities help improve your balance and flexibility, reducing your risk of injury. You should do them at least three days a week. Examples of Balance and Flexibility Activities are Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates.
Types of Physical Activates for Children:
The physical activity guidelines for children are the same as those for adults, but the activities look different. That’s because children are still growing and developing, so their bodies can handle different types of activity.
It is advised for young kids to engage in moderate to vigorous physical activities for at least 60 minutes a day. It will help improve their fitness and health.
Following are the suggestions:
- Hitting a ball
- Jumping rope
- Playing tag
- Climbing on the playground equipment
- Skateboarding, Roller Skates, etc.
Lifestyle Activities and the Physical Activity Pyramid:
Now that we’ve gone over the different categories of physical activity let’s talk about where lifestyle activities fit in. Lifestyle activities are those that you do every day without really thinking about it; they’re just a part of your daily routine. Examples include walking to the bus stop or taking a break to walk around your office every few hours.
Generally speaking, lifestyle activities fall into the category of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. As such, they shouldn’t be your only source of exercise; rather, they should supplement the other types of physical activity that you’re getting every week.
That being said, every little bit counts when it comes to being active! So, if you find yourself struggling to meet the CDC’s recommendations for moderate or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, start by adding some additional lifestyle activities to your day.
When most people think about exercise, they think about going to the gym or going for a run. But there are plenty of other ways to fit physical activity into your day! Lifestyle activities like walking to the bus stop or taking a break to walk around your office can help you meet your weekly exercise goals. And best of all, they’re easy to incorporate into your everyday routine. So if you’re looking for a way to be more active without making major changes to your lifestyle, start with simple lifestyle activities!