“The reason I exercise
is for the quality of life I enjoy”
– Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH
It can be said that a sedentary lifestyle exposes you to a greater risk of developing diseases, such as type 2 diabetes (T2D), hypertension, weight gain, an altered lipid and cholesterol profile, as well as also causing a worsening of the autonomic tone.
In addition, it is known that sedentary individuals are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
The first is a factor certainly implicated in the pathogenesis and prognosis of cardiovascular diseases, while the latter is a condition whose incidence has been increasing considerably in recent years, and it is estimated that it will soon become one of the first causes of pathology in the world.
Therefore, in an age in which physical exercise is considered a real drug, it is extremely interesting to fully understand how this is possible and how physical activity, together with a correct lifestyle, can contribute to the health of everyone, guaranteeing a full and high quality life.
Already in the fifth century BC, Hippocrates, the father of rational medicine, had placed great emphasis on the importance of a proper nutrition, accompanied by an adequate degree of physical activity, as a prerequisite for achieving a state of complete psychophysical well-being.
“If we were able to provide everyone with the right amount of nutrition and exercise,
neither in defect nor in excess, we would have found the path to health”
However, over the years, medicine has not always been concerned with physical exercise. Only recently it has been shown how people who used to play sports tended to get sick less, especially when it came to hypokinetic pathologies, or those diseases in which physical inactivity is believed to have a leading pathogenetic role.
It’s Up to Us
According to recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical activity can decrease symptoms of depression as it can lift mood and help you feel good.
Even moderate levels of physical activity can improve stress response and sleep quality.
Furthermore, as shown in the graph below, physical exercise seems to be able to reduce the possibility of dying prematurely by 30% compared to those who do not exercise.
The graph in the figure summarizes the conclusions drawn from an important American scientific review, which, already in 2008, had highlighted how physical exercise was able to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in today’s world, showing that those who are more physically active have a 30% less chance of dying prematurely than those who are not.
The relative risk values are shown on the vertical axis of the graph, called the ordinate axis (y axis): the closer the value is to zero, the more the risk of dying prematurely disappears.
On the horizontal axis of the graph, on the other hand, called the abscissa axis (x axis), the minutes of physical activity (from moderate to intense) performed per week are shown. Each of these values on the horizontal axis is associated with a relative risk value on the vertical one: the more we train, the more our health will benefit from it, drastically reducing the risk of developing dangerous, potentially fatal diseases.
Let’s Train Together!
In light of what has been said so far, the ability of individuals to deal with the problem of physical inactivity is of extreme importance.
According to the most recent data, aerobic activity seems to be the right starting point, towards achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In fact, we recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for at least 5 days a week, or at least 20 minutes a day of intense activity, at least 3 days a week.
How to set up your training?
Quite simply, it is necessary to take into account some functional parameters, such as the theoretical Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), which can be easily calculated using the Karvonen formula:
 Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) =
220 – age (years)
Here is an example: 220 – 42 years old = 178 beats per minute (BPM) is the Maximum Heart Rate (HRR).
The Heart Rate Reserve (HRR), on the other hand, representing the range of beats per minute that can be used during exercise, is calculated as follows:
 Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) =
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) – Resting Heart Rate
Finally, here is the last parameter that we will have to take into consideration in order to identify the aerobic training zone that best suits our initial situation: the “percentage training”. (If the concept of percentage training is not clear from the formula, there is no problem: the examples below are here for that!)
 Training at 60%* =
(heart rate reserve (HRR) x training %) + Resting Heart Rate
*X can represent any value between 0 and 100, depending on the aerobic training zone chosen.
- The “training%” parameter will undertake the value of 0.6 for 60% workouts, 0.7 for 70% workouts and so on.
- Thanks to the use of these two simple formulas it will be possible to identify the aerobic training areas without resorting to special equipment.
- To start a good structured physical activity path it will therefore be sufficient to calculate the parameters described above (HRmax, HRris, frequency at rest and training%) and then work on the percentage of training chosen according to our initial situation (example: carrying out aerobic activity – running on a treadmill – without exceeding 124 bpm, as in the case described above).
(These examples are retrieved from: Spattini M, Bevacqua E. Guida alla Medicina Funzionale. Capitolo 18, Conforti P. EDRA, 2019)
For sedentary subjects
A 60-70% work identifies a training zone for the initiation of physical activity of a complete sedentary subject.
For trained subjects
From 70-80%, on the other hand, the work area is useful for already trained subjects who aim to improve their physical performance (for example by increasing their maximum oxygen consumption VO2max).
Here is a more simplified situation.
A completely sedentary 60-year-old has a rest rate of 70 bpm (beats per minute). Percentage training chosen: 60% (training zone suggested in case of untrained people).
His HRmax will be 160 (220-60 years), while his HRris will be 90 bpm (160-70). To start training at 60%, you should therefore not exceed 124 bpm.
In fact, using formula number , training at 60% = (90 x 0.6) + 70 = 124 bpm.
In order to measure the heart rate at rest and to monitor the number of heart pulsations (bpm) during physical exertion, it is possible to use the most diverse technological devices (Smart Watches, smartphone app, etc.). To find out more, contact us by e-mail or through our social platforms Instagram and Facebook.