Exercise ETC’s Review of
Exercise Related Research

Compiled by Laura Abbott, MS, LMT

ACSM recently released new recommendations on the quantity and quality of exercise July 2011.  Changes are listed below, but a notable addition is neuromotor exercise or what many call “functional fitness.”  The position stand not only includes recommendations for exercise, but also views the time spent in sedentary activities.  The reason for this is that even the active adult may still develop heart disease, so we must look at the whole picture, not just bits and pieces.  Exercise is important, but sedentary behaviors are a distinctive risk factor that must be assessed.  Also, it is best to go by intensity and time to determine appropriate exercise rather than using pedometers, step counters and other devices to measure physical activity since these are not good indicators of the quality of exercise.

Cardiorespiratory Exercise
  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
  • Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
  • People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.
Resistance Exercise
  • Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
  • Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
  • Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
  • For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
  • Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.
  • Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
  • Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
  • Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
  • Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
  • Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.
Neuromotor Exercise
  • Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.
  • Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai ji and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
  • 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.

American College of Sports Medicine, “ACSM Issues New Guidelines on Quantity and Quality of Exercise.” Press Release, July 2011