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Exercises for the heart, mind and body

GEHA | May 31, 2023

It’s never too late to add these to your routine.

Physical activity benefits the heart, mind and body, helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes, enhancing thinking and judgment skills and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. But how much exercise is enough? And what types should be done?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends these types of exercise:

Cardio or aerobic exercise

  • This includes distance running, swimming, cycling, jumping rope and brisk walking. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. There are two options:
    • 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week
    • 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days each week

Resistance exercise

  • These exercises build tone and muscle strength and include lifting weights and resistance bands. Adults should train each major muscle group a minimum of two days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment. 
  • Very light or light-intensity exercise is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting out
  • Two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise helps improve strength and power. Body weight exercises such as push ups and planks also build strength.

Flexibility exercise

  • Adults should do stretching exercises, such as joint extension and flexions, at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion 
  • Each stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort
  • Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch

Functional fitness training

  • Balance exercises, also called functional fitness training, combine parts of the other three exercise groups. These exercises include yoga and tai chi and help improve balance, coordination and agility. They are recommended two or three days each week for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • These exercises are designed to improve physical function. Functional fitness is especially helpful to increase strength and stability for older adults to helpprevent falls. 

Active&Fit Direct™ program

Do you need resources for motivation and exercises? The Active&Fit program provides access to more than 11,900 gyms, 9,000+ on-demand videos and one-on-one lifestyle coaching. Membership starts at just $28 a month.

To enroll in the program, sign in to your GEHA account and click the Active&Fit Direct image on your member dashboard. You'll be taken to the Active&Fit Direct site, where you can learn more about the program and search for a gym near you.

Questions? Check out the Active&Fit FAQs.

These benefits are neither offered nor guaranteed under contract with the FEHB Program, but are made available to all Enrollees who become members of a GEHA medical plan and their eligible family members.

The information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein.

“Physical activity.”, World Health Organization, 5 October 2022.
“Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Second Edition, 2018.
“Flexibility Exercise (Stretching).”, American Heart Association, 18 April, 2018.

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