Exercise for optimal health: Strategies and motivational considerations

Robert C. Serfass, Susan G Gerberich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


It appears that most people who engage in exercise for 20-60 min per day, 3 days per week, at an intensity level of 70-80% of maximal heart rate will derive at least some health related benefits associated with improved cardiorespiratory fitness and optimal body weight. Individuals exhibiting extremely low cardiorespiratory fitness can probably derive benefits from even less exercise, while higher intensity and/or longer duration may be required to optimize some desired changes, particularly in areas associated with metabolic adaptation relative to blood lipids, diabetes, and psychological affect. While there is some evidence that it may take less exercise to maintain fitness levels already attained, a lifelong pattern of regular physical activity is recommended to optimize health-related benefits. Strategies which have been successful in combating high attrition rates in exercise programs include educational efforts to increase the participants' awareness of exercise benefits; assessment procedures which determine the participants' needs, provide continuous motivational reinforcement, and accurately record improvement; and written contracts which hold participants accountable for reaching realistic goals within specified time periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-99
Number of pages21
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1984


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