Can you tell if your exercise program is working for you?

Do you spend endless hours running, biking, walking?

Sweating on a treadmill, elliptical, or stairclimber?

Do you feel fit?

What should you do to prevent disease and stay healthy?

Should you take up Zoomba? Running? Pilates? Yoga? Should you join a Cross Fit gym? Will doing all those dead lifts, power cleans and jerks make you more fit? Will it help you gain muscle, and lose inches? Is that your goal?

It’s a lot to think about.

How about we start by defining exercise.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), exercise is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories – like walking, running, swimming, biking, strengthening and stretching.

The America College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the organization that has coined the term: “Exercise is Medicine”,  takes the definition a little further and recommends parameters regarding the quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining fitness in healthy adults.

In fact, according to the ACSM, an essential exercise program for most adults is one that incorporates the following criteria, beyond activities for daily living:

  1. Cardiorespiratory: Aerobic exercise, like running, swimming, biking, Zoomba
  2. Resistance: Body resistance exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, planks, sit-ups, or weight lifting
  3. Flexibility: Yoga, stretching
  4. Neuromotor: Balance, agility, coordination


This definition is a little more intense than the AHA’s “anything that makes you move and burn calories”. The sinister side of me thinks of sleeping – heck, I’m moving (I’m breathing) and I’m burning calories (basic living/breathing metabolism).

For this reason, I really like how the ACSM specifically states that exercise should be more than just your activities for daily living, like sleeping, making the bed, brushing your teeth, or walking up a flight of stairs. Actually, The AHA knows this and most of the quantity and quality parameters set forth by the ACSM have been adopted by the AHA to prevent heart disease and stroke, America’s #1 and#5 causes of death.

So, what are these quantity and quality parameters?

  • The ACSM recommends that most adults engage in moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise for 20 minutes or more 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes per week.
  • This could be replaced with either vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise training for 20 or more minutes 3 or more times per week, for a total of 75 or more minutes per week, or some combination of both moderate and vigorous exercise 3-5 times per week for a total of 75 to 150 minutes per week.
  • The ACSM also recommends that 2-3 days per week adults perform resistance and flexibility exercises, which incorporate neuromotor skills (balance, agility, and coordination) for each of the major muscle groups. This will help maintain muscle mass, joint range ofmotion, and muscle-tendon flexibility.

The Bottom Line:

If you are just strength training, you need to add in some cardio, flexibility, agility and balance. If you are an endurance addict and love to run, bike, or swim – you need to add in some strength, flexibility, and neuromotor activities. Depending on your Boot Camp class or Yoga class/level, and how often you take the class – you can have it all – balance, agility, coordination, flexibility, strength, and cardiorespiratory!

Lastly, if you are competing in a sport as an amateur, weekend warrior, or as a professional, incorporating all four of the ACSM exercise parameters will not only help you stay on top of your game, but will also keep you from getting injured.

Take a look at your exercise routine, or the one you want to start, and see if it incorporates the four basic ACSM parameters: Cardiorespiratory, Resistance, Flexibility, and Neuromotor activities.

Need help deciding which exercise routine is the best for you?

Call me today:


After all,

“Exercise is Medicine”

and doing it right can really help you feel fit!