Health Topics

Physical Activity

Movement is part of our everyday lives and incorporating the right amount of physical activity is key to maintaining good health. Physical activity leads to better heart health, increased muscle strength, and more energy allowing us to accomplish daily actions in an effective and efficient way.

Click here for more information on Physical Activity: Physical Activity WellFacts Sheet

How Much?

Students should aim to get the following each week

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity
  • 2-3 days of strength-building activities

 

Types of Physical Activity

Aerobic

Aerobic activity moves the large muscles of the body in rhythmic motions for long periods of time and increases heart rate. Tis type of activity promotes good heart health and improves circulatory function. Aerobic activities range in their intensity level.

  • Moderate-Intensity: Walking, Dancing, Climbing Stairs, Lawn Games, Gardening, Cleaning
  • High-Intensity: Running, Cycling, Swimming, Playing Sports, Group Fitness Classes

Strength

Strength training increases muscle mass through resistance exercises.  These resistance exercises involve the major muscle groups of the body: legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, and arms. Resistance exercises break down the muscle of focus and, with proper nutrition, allows for the body to repair the muscle, increasing its mass. Below are some examples of strength-building exercises.

  • Body Weight Exercises
  • Weight Lifting
  • Resistance Bands

REMEMBER: Strength exercises are less about time spent doing the activity and more about repetitions and muscle fatigue.

  1. Sets of 8-12 repetitions are ideal.

  2. Continue until it would be difficult to do another repetition without help.

  3. Intensify strength training by adding repetitions or times performed per week.

Balance & Flexibility

These exercises do not count towards your minimum daily recommendations for aerobic and strength activities, but they can help you increase your performance in both of those areas. Stretching increases your flexibility, allowing you a greater range of motion and control over your muscles as they are put under stress and balance improves our function in many daily activities including sitting, picking up objects, climbing stairs, and reacting quickly to sudden events.

 

When and Where is Best to Exercise?

Each body responds differently to exercise and can be affected by additional factors. The time of day, location, and social atmosphere can elicit different responses from our bodies. Some individuals may be more inclined to exercise best when with a group of peers, and some may do better on their own in private. Some are early risers that prefer to start their day with an energy boost from exercising, while some exercise after work to unwind and let the stress of the day melt away.

The most important thing anyone can do is start doing physical activity and learn through trial and error what works best for them.

 

Need Help Starting?

Southern Methodist University is committed to student health and promoting healthy habits.  The mission of the Department of Recreational Sports is to provide opportunities that build skills and knowledge about the five components of physical fitness (cardiovascular endurance, body fat composition, flexibility, muscular endurance, and muscular strength) and overall well-being.

Resources:

  • Free GroupX classes are available at the Dedman Center and build a foundation of knowledge on the specific fitness topic.

  • Fitness events are put on by the Department of Recreational Sports.

  • Personal trainers are available at the Dedman Center for those who prefer one on one instruction.

  • Intramural sports, a pool, and rock climbing wall are available at the Dedman Center.

  • Equipment rentals are also available at the Dedman Center.  Inhouse equipment can be rented at the front desk and outdoor equipment can be rented for minimal fees at the Outdoor Adventure Office and Rental Shop on the bottom floor of the Dedman Center just left of the Climbing Center.

 

For more information please email healthed@smu.edu