You might know your blood pressure, but do you know how to check your physical activity vital signs?

Stock image | Photo by Wesley Tingey and courtesy St. George Health and Wellness magazine, St. George News

FEATURE — Are you looking to live a healthier life? Exercise is a component that will ultimately provide you with longevity and improve your quality of life. The Exercise is Medicine initiative – or EIM – was started by American College of Sports Medicine’s president Dr. Robert E. Sallis in 2007.

EIM grew into a global health initiative from 2007 to 2017, with a presence in more than 40 countries worldwide. The initiative calls for physical activity to be included as a standard part of medical treatment and the patient care process.

Physical Activity Vital Signs (PAVS)

Vitals signs taken by your physician may include heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, temperature, height, weight and respiration rate. The EIM initiative now incorporates physical activity vital signs.

The following questions are used to determine your physical activity vital signs:

  • On average, how many days per week do you engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity, such as a brisk walk? _____ days
  • On average, how many minutes do you engage in physical activity at this level? _____ minutes

Multiply the answer to question 1 by the answer to question 2 to get a total minutes per week of physical activity.

The national guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. That’s just 2 1/2 hours out of 168 hours in a week. In place of moderate-intensity activity, you can complete 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity.

One minute of vigorous activity is equal to two minutes of moderate activity.

File photo of running leg of the 2017 Sand Hollow Aquatic Center Triathlon, St. George, Utah, April 8, 2017 | Photo courtesy of St. George Races, St. George News

You can perform activity in multiple “bouts” of any length throughout the day to add up to the recommended 150 minutes per week.

Although light-intensity physical activity, such as a casual walk, is not assessed by the PAVS, it positively impacts health. Wherever you are on your physical activity journey, you are encouraged to become and remain active. Engaging in active living throughout the day will reduce sedentary time and minimize screen time.

What is moderate intensity?

You can talk but not sing while performing the activity. Examples include brisk walking, slow biking, doubles tennis, various forms of dance, active home chores and gardening.

What is vigorous intensity?

You can no longer talk easily and are somewhat out of breath during this activity. Examples include jogging, fast bicycling, singles tennis, aerobic exercise and swimming laps.

If you are interested in an exercise program that will assess your current fitness level and provide you with a customized exercise prescription, visit the LiVe Well Center of Intermountain Healthcare in the Health and Performance Building on the lower level or call 435-251-3793. Don’t miss the opportunity to use exercise as medicine!


This article was first published in the Sept./Oct. 2021 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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