Ester Marsh: Cardio, flexibility and balance guidelines

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2021

Let’s talk about cardio, balance and flexibility. The American College of Medicine (ACSM) guidelines say you should do at least 30 minutes a day of moderate cardio exercise for a minimum of five days a week or vigorous exercises a minimum of 20 minutes three times per week.

For many, 30 minutes per day might be too much to start with. It’s OK to break it up into sessions. Example: 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes midday and 10 minutes in the evening. You can even go 5 minutes, rest 5 minutes and go 5 minutes again. However you do it, as long as you can get 30 minutes per day.

Today we are starting the Anywhere, Anyway 5K. It’s the same principle as breaking up your cardio time during the day/week. It runs through March 27 and the purpose is to get you moving and it’s a great fundraiser for us to be able to help families and individuals in need. Accomplish a 5K over any two-week period. Just like breaking up your time per day, you can break up the 5K distance over two weeks.

It’s for anyone anywhere.

Best of all, it can be done anywhere. Run/walk 3.1 miles (5K), or swim 1 mile, or bike 10 miles. Any group exercise class lasting 55 minutes or more is counted as a 5K.

Go to to sign up or come by to sign up. It’s $25 per person and you get an T-shirt and a medal at request (free). For $5 more, you can add a dog and they get a cool bandanna.

Besides cardio, flexibility and balance are important. The ACSM guidelines for flexibility are at least two to three days per week to improve flexibility. Hold the stretch 10-30 seconds; repeat each stretch two-four times, accumulating at least 60 seconds per stretch. Yoga classes are a great way to work on flexibility, balance and strength.

Any functional fitness class or exercising (neuromotor exercises) that involves agility, coordination and gait should be done at least two to three times per week.

So in a nutshell, to start or continue a healthy exercise schedule you should do at least two days of strength training (nonconsecutive days). A minimum of 150 minutes of cardio per week, stretch each muscle at least two days per week and work on balance and functional fitness at least two days per week.

Check your YMCA, gym or studio to see if there are classes such as yoga and cardio strength or functional fitness classes to help guide you safely through those components.  Just move, work hard on being kind to everyone and respect everything.

Ester H. Marsh is Health and Fitness Director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.