Here’s a pyramid scheme where everybody wins: the California Department of Health Services Fitness Activity Pyramid! Similar to the United States Department of Agriculture’s food guide pyramid for basic nutrition, the fitness pyramid groups activities according to their ideal percentage and guides you to an active lifestyle.
The top has a narrow band for sedentary activities such as watching TV and sitting at the computer, while the broader segments outline weekly and daily fitness objectives. The pyramid is easy to use and has recommendations for all levels of fitness. For example:
If you’re just starting a fitness program and do not currently exercise: Walk whenever you can. Walk to the store, take a 15-minute walk at lunch, and try to walk a little bit every day. Health experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for adults. If you need to break it up into three 10-minute segments instead of a single 30-minute trek, that’s a great start.
If you’re already exercising moderately: Focus on getting a good aerobic workout at least three days a week. This could be walking, jogging, biking, swimming, playing soccer or basketball, or even going out dancing or gardening. Make sure you get your 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day by walking or other activities and set goals to challenge yourself.
If daily exercise is already a part of your routine: You may already have exercise partners, but if not, get involved in new physical activities with like-minded people, such as group hiking or cycling. Incorporating cross training into your routine is a great way to ensure optimum fitness and make sure you never get bored. Two or three days a week try strength training with pushups, weight lifting, or resistance band training. Remember to stretch regularly.
You can download a PDF of the pyramid and check it out on your own. And remember, it’s your body and your fitness plan, make it work for you!
- Jeff Koelemay