What is the Physical Activity Pyramid?

The physical activity pyramid is similar to the food pyramid, which illustrates a balanced diet of different types of foods. The physical activity pyramid emphasizes the importance of incorporating different types of physical activities into one’s daily routine. The most important and beneficial activities are located in the bottom tier of the pyramid, while the activities that are least beneficial to your health are in the top part of the pyramid.

The main categories include:

Sedentary Activities: Limit Your Time Doing These Activities
These are activities that involve little to no physical movement, such as sitting, spending time watching TV or at the computer. They are placed at the top of the pyramid to signify that the time spent on these activities should be limited. These activities can negatively affect health if excessive.

Strength, Flexibility and Balance: Include strength training 2 to 3 times per week and flexibility and balance 3 to 7 times per week. This tier includes activities that involve movement that does not significantly increase heart rate or breathing, such as casual walking, or light stretching. Also included are activities that affect flexibility, balance, and strength, which are particularly important as we age. Examples are yoga, tai chi, Pilates, resistance training, weightlifting and bodyweight exercises.

Cardio and Recreational Activities: 3 to 5 times per week for a total of 150-300 minutes.
Activities that elevate the heart rate and breathing, such as brisk walking, cycling at a moderate pace, or swimming at a leisurely speed. This tier also includes activities that are more vigorous and that significantly raise heart rate and breathing. Activities such as running, aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and competitive sports are included here.

Everyday Activities: Stay active every day. Biking to work, doing yard work, or household chores, walking to your mailbox or up the stairs, walking your dog and playing with your children are all examples of everyday activities.

Aim for a balance of activities from each tier of the pyramid to keep yourself active and healthy. By incorporating different types of physical activity, individuals can improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength, flexibility, and overall well-being.

Source: Complete Wellness Solutions. Completely Well Newsletter, November 2023.

What is the Physical Activity Pyramid?
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