How Much Exercise Is Enough for Us


While an hour a day of exercise might be just the thing for us, it is entirely ridiculous to expect us all to change our fundamental natures just because a top scientific panel, following high-quality investigational methodologies, blindly suggests we should. To be useful, expert recommendations on a healthy lifestyle must remain within the bounds of the possible. And telling us to exercise an hour a day is more than just out of bounds - it is too outlandish for words. Indeed, this new recommendation is so outlandish that it threatens to completely undermine whatever good might have come so far from past, and more reasonable, recommendations on exercise.  


Here's a fact: the more exercise you do, the more you are reducing your cardiovascular risk. While the IOM is now on record as saying we "need" to do an hour a day of exercise, the fact is that if we did two hours a day we'd be even better off. (To this extent, the scientist-authors of this report maintained at least some sense of practicality.) Those of you who can fit in an hour or two of exercise a day need read no further.


But for the rest of us, the real question is: How much exercise do we really need in order to see at least some substantial cardiovascular benefit? 


If you can engage in vigorous exercise for an hour a day without making yourself crazy, crippling yourself, losing your job, or instigating a divorce, then by all means do so. But if you are a mere mortal, then at least try to go for a walk every day. Twenty minutes of moderate daily activity won't make the pounds melt off or give you the same body composition as Frank Shorter or the Williams sisters, but it will make a real impact on your cardiovascular health. If the IOM report had allowed as much, frustration levels among those of us trying to lead healthy, but non-obsessive, lifestyles would be a little bit lower today.


Walking, gardening and other forms of moderate exercise are keys to good health, many experts say. But wait, recent research suggests more heart-pounding activity may be required. Some health officials advocate 30 minutes of exercise a day, while others call for a full hour. The steady stream of conflicting fitness advice is enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel.


So How Much Exercise is Enough?


In trying to make sense of contradictory fitness headlines, experts say, it’s important to realize that exercise studies may reach opposing conclusions because they involve different age groups or sexes, people with different risk factors (some may already be at risk for heart disease, some may be overweight) or those with vastly different fitness levels to begin with.


So it’s not always possible to make direct comparisons from one study to the next. Findings that hold true for sedentary women in their golden years, for instance, may have little bearing on active college men.


Moderate Physical Activity


For avoiding heart problems, diabetes and other diseases down the line is your main concern, health professionals say there is substantial research backing the advice in the 1996 Surgeon General’s report to strive for at least half an hour a day of moderate physical activity on most days.


Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, swimming, raking leaves and even housework — as long as it’s somewhat intense, like scrubbing floors. You can break up the activity into three, 10-minute sessions if you like


Thirty minutes a day of moderate activity has a very significant health benefit. But that’s not to say that longer or more intense activity isn’t beneficial. To shed the extra pounds, it’s necessary to tap into the body’s stored fuel source — fat — by eating less and exercising more. How much less you need to eat and how much more you need to exercise — how long and at what intensity — will depend on various factors, including your current weight, diet and metabolism.



Above all, the key point to keep in mind is that there is a wealth of research to date showing that exercise is good for us, and that the benefits are cumulative.


So if you can’t fit in as much physical activity as you would like on a given day, it’s still worthwhile to get some exercise, even if that means just taking the stairs a couple of times or going for a short, brisk walk.

Hard-core fitness enthusiasts and athletes can overdo it, training too hard and experiencing injuries, exhaustion and other complications as a result.


But the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population is at risk for the myriad diseases that can result from exercising far too little. About two-thirds of adults are not regularly active and a quarter gets virtually no exercise at all, statistics show.


Top Comments

Hey robin,love the website! I am so glad I chose you to work with, you are not only paanoisste about what you do, you also make me paanoisste about myself and my whole image! My whole outlook on life has changed, not only in my execising but talso in the way I eat and choices in everything! Your the best girl! I'm so thankful I have you as my trainer!
by Nhj     29-May-2012

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