How much should I exercise ?
Many people want initiate an exercise program. Whether it is to lose weight, or simply improve their overall health, “How Much Should I Exercise” has become a common question I hear every week. Unfortunately, until recently the answer has not been easy.
Recent research (and here) has made the answer to the question, “How Much Should I Exercise” a lot easier to answer. The government suggests that we exercise 20-30 minutes at a moderate intensity at least 5 days week. At a moderate intensity your heart rate should be elevated above at least 60-70 % of your maximum heart rate. Tracking your heart rate during any exercise can be very useful to monitor your intensity. The FitBit Charge is the most popular tracker for this purpose. There have been two recent reports which have shed further light on this subject of just how much we should exercise — and exactly what the overall benefits are. I offer a little more detail after the video :-).
This recent review in US News is well worth reading… The authors, both active physicians conclude based on their studies that we do not actually know what might constitute “too much” exercise. It is also likely that a certain level of exercise may be too much for some, but just right for others. Bottom line… runners, in general live longer than sedentary individuals. The possibility that exercising too much is harmful should NOT be used as an excuse not to exercise… any questions? :-)
Obviosuly, sitting IS the new smoking and has been proven to be very bad for your health. Sitting for hours on end can actually negate the benefits of a 30 minute run. Simply getting up and walking around the office for a minute every 30 minutes, or holding a walking meeting with a colleague will do the trick.
The two papers I referenced show:
- There is a 30% decrease in mortality if you follow the government guidelines and exercise 12o minutes a week at a moderate pace
- There is a 19% improvement if you perform less physical activity such as walking around every few hours.
- There is a 39% decrease in mortality in people who perform 1 hour of moderate intensity exercise each day. That seems to be the maximum gain.
Now, all this assumes you are healthy enough to exercise… but most all can walk. Review your plans with your doctor … consider a tracker with a heart rate monitor (click the FitBit below) … and start moving.
Motion is life… sitting is bad.
What’s your favorite form of exercise?
Adam Jacobs says
Interesting stuff. Do you have links for those papers you mention? I’d be very interested to read them.
I’d also love to know if you are aware of any evidence about the relative merits of moderate vs more strenuous exercise. You mention the benefits of 20-30 minutes exercise at 50-60% of my maximum heart rate, but what are the advantages or disadvantages of exercising more strenuously, say at 80-90% of my maximum heart rate?
Howard J. Luks, MD says
I have placed the links within the article and at the end. I also added a link the the heart.org site for more information on the definition of moderate exercise. The 80/20 rule is wise rule to follow. 80% of your exercise should be of a mild/moderate intensity and only 20% at a higher intensity (>93% Max HR). Once you get into your VO2 Max range the risk of injury increases.