Monday, September 10, 2007

Should walkers better jog?

family walk
The current physical activity guidelines are too lax, according to British sports physicians. But they may have forgotten the pleasure factor and the influence of the individual fitness level.

Health guidelines in Britain recommend physical activity of moderate intensity, and this message has reached its target. But the public got it wrong, as two physicians of the School of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter want to convince us. In a survey of more than a thousand adults, 56 percent of men and 71 percent of women stated that moderate activity is better for health than vigorous activity. This "erroneous belief" should be corrected by amending the current guidelines.

How much is too much?

Do we really need tough public health drill sergeants who push us to hard workouts? After all, leisure time physical activity is supposed to give us pleasure and relieve our stress.

It may be true that vigorous activity could be better for health, but the most important factor is time spent in either moderate or vigorous activity. Time, on the other hand, is depending much on motivation, hence on pleasure.

The importance of fitness

The individual fitness level is also very important when it comes to general recommendations. What is "moderate" and what is "vigorous"? The self-perceived exertion level is inversely related to fitness, according to a Danish survey in more than two thousand adults of all ages. That is, a fit person will rate an activity as moderate and an unfit person will rate the same activity as vigorous. Not very surprising, but it has to be taken into account for public recommendations.

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