Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Exercise: How Much is Enough?

Sep 01, 2015 10:18AM ● By Cate Reynolds
Right off the bat (yes, baseball is good exercise), let’s get the nomenclature right. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to the exercise we need as “physical activity.” That’s a much more accurate, palatable notion. Active is what we need to be, not necessarily sweating up the mat at a Bikram yoga class.

The CDC does have pretty specific guidelines for their suggested weekly “activities.”  

Two hours and 30 minutes

(150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking will fill this bill) and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that works all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)

One hour and 15 minutes

(75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (jogging or running) and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that works all major muscle groups

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities.

These guidelines are universally accepted for all of those healthy enough for such activity. And the schedule does allow for mixing things up while still accomplishing something every day. (There’s power in accomplishments.) And the CDC adds these words of encouragement:

“Ten minutes at a time is fine. We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. That’s two hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend to watch a movie. The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don’t have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It’s about what works best for you, as long as you’re doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.”

Also, keep in mind that it is about way more than a small waistline. It’s about a longer lifeline. Study after study confirms that those who regularly exercise, er, sorry, engage in physical activity, live longer, better lives. It’s as simple as that. Just recently JAMA Internal Medicine, a very clinical publication for doctors, confirmed these findings. The study is entitled Effect of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Australians.

The conclusion, everyone benefits from some sort of activity. They even found that those who were just a little bit more active, not even meeting the recommendations but doing something, managed to lower their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

It’s about moving not sitting still. Unfortunately, worrying and stressing doesn’t burn calories—just the lining of your stomach. Even heavy thinking doesn’t seem to register on a Fitbit or Jawbone. But try strapping one on and just watch how effective taking an invigorating walk while you worry can be.

Sarah Hagerty