Breaking a Sweat: How Much Exercise is Enough?

Exercise can help you feel better, be healthier and live longer. Try researching the best way to exercise though, and you get hit with the latest fitness trends, conflicting information, and a general slew of viewpoints.

It’s overwhelming. And, it’s possibly discouraging. In a blog post for the New York Times earlier this year, Gretchen Reynolds aptly said that “exercise has had a Goldilocks problem.” Are you working out too little, too much, too hard, not enough? That is what two studies on exercise researched. Those studies found an association between exercise and health/mortality, as summarized in Gretchen’s blog post.

The outcome? Do at least 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of physical activity each week, with 20 to 30 minutes of that being vigorous activity. This can lead to a 31 percent decrease in early death in comparison with people who don’t exercise. This amount of exercise is in line with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Exercise this summer

However, according to Gretchen, “the sweet spot for exercise benefits came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week…Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.”

If you are motivated to work out even more than an hour a day, there’s no real added benefit in terms of longevity, but no harm either. So, if you want to work out more – go for it! If not, that’s fine too.

Read the whole New York Times blog post online here.

The bottom line? If you are capable, doing any physical activity will help keep you healthy longer, but doing at least 21 minutes every day with one day of vigorous activity seems to be the minimum needed. But, working out moderately for just over an hour each day if you can is “the right dose,” as Gretchen puts it.

Check out the two exercise study abstracts here:

Need help staying motivated to fit in those workouts? Check out these tips!

NEA Healthy Futures is providing information and is not endorsing or recommending any specific treatment. Consult your health care provider or a qualified mental health professional to determine what is appropriate for you.

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