What are the physical activity guidelines and why are they so important? Tune in to this episode to learn how your Pilates practice can help you meet them!
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[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
[00:00:46] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we're gonna be talking about the American Colleges of Sports Medicine's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription, and why that matters [00:01:00] when we think about doing Pilates. So I had never heard of the ACSM, which is the acronym for the American College of Sports Medicine and I didn't know what the exercise prescription was for adults.
[00:01:15] And so when I learned it, it was kind of eye-opening for me, both as someone who teaches a fitness modality, like Pilates, but also as a person who does fitness modalities, like Pilates, like yoga. And I wanna share it with you because Pilates fits really well into this exercise prescription for adults. And it might also shine a light on some other things that you may want to do as well. So that's kind of the background for this episode is that this is cool. And this is something that all adults are recommended to do. So let's talk about it. How does Pilates fit into this picture as well?
[00:01:55] So basically the American College of Sports Medicine is this group [00:02:00] of super smart individuals who get together every few years and they write out these guidelines. And guidelines are what many, many, many systematic reviews have said. And many, many research papers, which were in those systematic reviews have said, and it's to the best of our knowledge, like the best information we have, the most widely tested information we have and we use these guidelines or guideline based care to work with all different types of people.
[00:02:34] And this different type of people that we're looking at is adults. And this exercise prescription is for all adults, you know, age 18 and over. And it's what this group based on. Loads of research is saying, this is how much we should exercise every week. The guidelines for all adults, all, I would say all healthy [00:03:00] adults who don't have conditions potentially that may influence this, but for adults, it's 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio a week, or, and, or I guess some combination of 75 minutes of high intensity cardiovascular exercise a week. So you can do 75 minutes of high intensity, 150 minutes of moderate intensity. Or if you do- it's like every minute of high intensity cardio is worth two minutes of moderate intensity cardio, but they recommend you do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.
[00:03:38] And how we rate what cardio is, is by something called the talk test. So if you're walking at a very leisurely pace and you can hold a conversation without any breaks to take a big breath of air or you're not panting or anything. That's called low intensity exercise. Moderate intensity exercise is, you can still talk, but [00:04:00] like every now and again, you have to take a little extra breath. So you might be walking pretty briskly. And then high intensity exercise is gonna be, you can only get a few words out, but you're really spending most of your energy breathing. That's gonna be high intensity.
[00:04:15] So we've gotta do some of this cardiovascular work every week. They then recommend that you do two to three strength training sessions per week. And a strength training session is defined by them as working all the major muscle groups in the body to near fatigue. That's what they're calling a strength training session.
[00:04:39] First thing I thought when I heard that was well, I am not meeting the physical activity guidelines for adults. It seems like a lot. Maybe it doesn't seem like a lot, like two to three strength training sessions and then 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio or 75 minutes of high intensity [00:05:00] cardio. If you break it down, you've got your two to three sessions a week. And then that 150 minutes of cardio is either 30 minutes, five days a week or 50 minutes, three times a week. Right. It's not, not doable. It's definitely doable, but it might be more than you find that you're already doing.
[00:05:23] Now you might be wondering, well, why does that matter? Why do I care about that? It's cool that they think that that's good, but why do they think that that's good? And this is where it gets wild, my friends. Meeting the physical activity guidelines reduces all cause mortality massively. So when I say all cause mortality, I mean like literally any reason that you could die. Meeting those physical activity guidelines massively [00:06:00] decreases your likelihood of dying of anything.
[00:06:04] The reasons for that include improving your cardiovascular and respiratory function because you're asking your heart to work harder so it gets good at working harder. We reduce the possibility of getting cardiovascular disease. It reduces those disease risk factors, decreases morbidity and mortality, decreases anxiety and depression, increases cognitive function, enhances physical function and independent living when you're an older adult, enhances overall feeling of wellbeing, enhances quality of life, improves sleep quality and efficiency, enhances performance of work, recreational and sport activities, reduces risks of falls and injuries from falls and older adults, prevents or mitigates functional limitations in older [00:07:00] adults and is an effective therapy for many chronic diseases in older adults. There's extra benefit to being an older adult and exercising, but for adults of all ages, the best thing you can do for yourself is exercise. And the type of exercise you should do is anything that meets these physical activity guidelines.
[00:07:24] So that's all well and good, but how does Pilates fit into this? Because this isn't talking about Pilates specifically, this is talking about bigger than Pilates. This is talking about exercise. This is talking about strength training. So coming up after the break, Let's talk about how Pilates fits into this puzzle.
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[00:08:47] Before the break, I dropped some knowledge about the physical activity guidelines, namely 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio or 75 minutes of high intensity [00:09:00] cardio a week, plus two to three strength training sessions in which all major muscle groups of the body are worked to near fatigue. That's the general guidelines, but how does Pilates fit in?
[00:09:13] Well, as we know, there's a lot of different types of Pilates and you may have taken Pilates classes that were very gentle, more stretching, more slow movements that didn't get your heart rate up. Maybe you spent a lot of time close to the mat, or you were doing more gentle movements on the reformer. Of course that's gonna be subjective because what's a gentle movement to someone maybe a really intense movement to someone else.
[00:09:40] So what that falls into in terms of a cardio range is like, maybe that's not moderate intensity cardio. If you're stretching on the reformer. Stretching on the reformer is awesome, but maybe it's not modern intensity cardio, right? And maybe you take really high intensity reformer classes where you're running almost like a circuit and your heart rate [00:10:00] is up and you're doing things with your arms and your legs like that can definitely qualify as a cardiovascular activity.
[00:10:06] Now I'm not saying that Pilates has to be your cardio or that you need to take higher intensity Pilates classes in order to get the benefit. Where I really see Pilates fitting into our physical activity guidelines here is as a strength training session. So one of the things that I love about Pilates is that we don't often or ever work to absolute muscle failure.
[00:10:30] We aren't trying to do the hundred until we physically cannot lift our legs anymore and we collapse, right. You may have seen people in gyms kind pushing themselves to the point that they drop the weight or they can't put the weight back up and that's called working to failure. And we don't often work towards failure in Pilates. We usually do several repetitions, but we don't go until we are physically unable to go any further. So we're already [00:11:00] potentially working to near fatigue. And if you're working with a Pilates teacher who uh, is aware of the guidelines, which is awesome. And we love Pilate's teachers who are aware of the guidelines.
[00:11:11] They might be setting up their classes to be more of a strength training session, because we know in our Pilates classes, we work all of our body and it usually happens in like a really flowing way where you're like, oh my gosh, the time just passes so quickly. But as you're going through these exercises, you are working your arms and your legs and your front body and your back body and your side body and your whole body as you're going through the exercises. So Pilates can qualify as a strength training session if you are working all of your major muscle groups, which I'm pretty sure you are, and you're working them to near fatigue.
[00:11:48] Now you can do this intentionally in your Pilates classes, especially again, if you're having one on one sessions, you can say, Hey, I would really love to meet the exercise guidelines. [00:12:00] I learned on Pilates Students' Manual that when you meet the exercise guidelines, your likelihood of dying goes way down for like any reason, which is awesome. Right? So Pilates could be qualified as a strength training session. And then depending on the type of cardio, like it could also be a cardiovascular activity.
[00:12:19] And I don't even think necessarily that it could just be jump board classes that are cardiovascular. Like I've done some long stretch series on the reformer where you're just doing like a million planks and I'm like, yeah, my heart rate is definitely up, like that is some sweat on my brow. Like that can also be it.
[00:12:38] I don't oftentimes find myself doing what I would call moderate or high intensity cardio and Pilates, especially just because we're lying down for a lot of exercises. Like your heart just doesn't have to pump blood as hard when you're lying down, versus when you're standing up and your arms are overhead and you're jumping around, right.
[00:12:59] [00:13:00] Pilates can definitely fit into this picture of meeting the guidelines. And I've shared about this before, and I will keep sharing about it probably over and over again, is this idea that we can do just Pilates. Pilates can be what you do and you do all the time and you could meet the physical activity guidelines doing Pilates, but you could also go for a brisk walk and do Pilates and meet your physical activity guidelines.
[00:13:26] The most important thing to remember with these guidelines is the importance of getting moving and how beneficial movement is. If Pilates is your movement, amazing, do it, but also getting some cardio. And I say that to myself as well, because cardio is not my favorite flavor of exercise by any stretch of the imagination, but it is so good for our hearts, especially as we get older, but literally all the time. To move and move frequently and move with some degree of intensity, the physical activity guidelines [00:14:00] are a guide and they're not a one size fits all. Of course they're always exceptions to the rule, but for healthy adults, even adults with a variety of other conditions, like you may have other stuff going on in your body, but the best thing you can do is to get active.
[00:14:20] And it doesn't have to happen overnight. You don't have to go from, oh my gosh, I'm doing zero minutes of cardio. Well, tomorrow I'm gonna do 150 minutes. Like that's not the goal either, but to do a little bit every day or several times a week to move and groove will go a long way in making your overall wellbeing a little bit better. And that's not me. I mean, it's also me. I'm definitely saying that, but also that's what the guidelines say. And it's backed up with lots and lots of research. It's like we have difficulty like agreeing on things in general, [00:15:00] but the jury is not out. The jury is in and exercise is good. And Pilates is a vital part of that exercise as well.
[00:15:10] It's on my to-do list to get more cardio in more meaningful ways. I'm trying to find a method of cardio that I don't hate. I had a friend who said, oh my gosh, I love swimming. And I was like, I don't even know if I know how to swim, but the benefits are definitely there. And I love decreasing all cause mortality. So let's all get on that guideline train.
[00:15:35] Huge thank you to some new supporters of the podcast. Thank you to Jamie and Rose. So glad to have you as part of the project. The newsletter for August just went out. So if you're looking at scheduling a coffee chat, I look forward to chatting with you soon. Hope you have a great couple weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.[00:16:00]
[00:16:05] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual a podcast, helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates, too? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
[00:16:29] I hope to see you next episode. Until next time.[00:17:00]