How much exercise is enough?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

One workout a week is enough... but it has to be two and a half hours long?!
How much exercise do you need to stay fit & healthy?

A new study has found those who managed two and a half hours of exercise on one or two days of the week were just as healthy as others doing the same amount stretched over a longer period.

A recent Canadian study claims it does not matter how people accumulate their recommended weekly 150 minutes of exercise.

I recently read an interesting Canadian exercise study:

*The study found that those who did recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise in one session were no less healthy than those who split it up across the week.
*Canadian experts studied 2,324 men and women aged between 18 and 64.
*Participants were monitored with physical tests as well as blood tests.
*Results suggest that those who only exercise at the weekend can make up for sedentary lifestyle they lead for rest of the week.

Dr Ian Janssen, who led the research, said: ‘The findings indicate it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity.’

Guidelines usually recommend adults perform moderate to vigorous physical activity on most or all days of the week for a total of 150 minutes, with no advice for frequency.

So Dr Janssen and colleagues at Queen’s University, Toronto, attached a motion detector to the waists of 2,324 men and woman aged between 18 and 64.

The tiny electrical actical accelerometer, about the size of a small package of matches, records how much a person moves every minute.

The adults who met the advice of more than 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity were divided into those who exercised on five to seven or one to four of the days.

Physical exams and blood tests on the participants then measured their ‘metabolic syndrome’ which indicates risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Those who were ‘infrequently active’ were in no greater danger of developing these illnesses than their frequently active’ counterparts, according to the study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Dr Janssen said: ‘For instance, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the same health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.

‘The important message is adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity.’

So based on much exercise should you aim for?

My Advice:
*It is a good idea to set a weekly target for scheduled exercise. (eg. 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise). Break your exercise up across the week preferably, but ensure it is scheduled!

*I generally do not include incidental exercise (eg. general movement such as gardening or walking the dog) in this total. However, do not discount the benefit of general movement for your health- just consider it as loose change that will accumulate in your fitness bank.

*If your fitness goal is to get leaner, your weekly scheduled exercise may need to be higher than the recommended 150 minutes per week. This will be dependent on your fitness level & conditioning in regards to what you can achieve in a week. For someone with a low fitness level I may recommend just 100 minutes per week. Therefore, if you complete a 30 minute fitness session then you have reached 30% of your weekly target. For someone with a more advanced level of fitness the target might be 200 minutes, therefore a 60 minute workout would achieve 30% of their weekly target.

*Focus on increasing your fitness level by gradually upping the duration & intensity of your exercise sessions. A fitter you will mean you can achieve a higher weekly time target and effectively be burning more calories (specifically fat) during your sessions. When you are fitter your Basal Metabolic Rate (resting metabolism) is also higher and you will literally be burning more calories in your sleep!

*Vary your exercise sessions to include a combination of cardio & strength training. Both forms of training are necessary to create a fitter, leaner and healthier you!

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