Exercise is good for you - but how much is enough?
It lessens your chance of illnesses such as heart disease, strokes and cancer by up to 50%. You’ll lower chances of early death by up to 30%. If there was a magic pill we could pop for these benefits, we’d all be queuing up for a prescription.
But there’s no medicine necessary to reap these health-boosting rewards. All you need is exercise. Working out more can help you live a happier and healthier life - so don’t get down, get moving. You’ll reduce your risk of depression, and light up a plethora of areas in the brain which give you more energy both physically and mentally.
The question is, how much exercise is enough? Do we need to be sweating it out at a HIIT class every day, or will a bit of yoga a few times a week do the trick? We’ve rounded up the science behind movement, so you can plan exactly how much time you need to spend getting your blood pumping every week for optimum health benefits.
Getting the best amount of exercise per week
Let’s get straight to the crunch. To stay fit and focussed, you should move more every day - aiming to squeeze 150 minutes of physical activity into your routine over the course of the week through a range of classes, workouts or activities.
Hours and hours of sweating it out aren’t necessary for exercise to be effective - just 20 minutes every day can make a huge difference to your health. Those 20 minutes, in fact, are the most important - you’ll dramatically slash your risk of all kinds of diseases such as diabetes, dementia and heart disease. Plus, by fitting short bursts of fitness into your daily routine, you make working out less daunting and it’ll eventually become a habit.
Of course, the more physical activity you do the better. That means moving strenuously enough to quicken your heart rate, breathe faster and warm up the body - aka moderate intensity activity.
How to move more
Today’s ‘silent killer’ is without a doubt, sitting down. Sedentary lifestyles are to blame for increased risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and weight gain. But when we spend much of our lives at a desk, watching TV and in the car, raising your activity game can be tough.
As well as regular workouts, there are plenty of ways you can up your movement without noticeable amounts of effort. Try these three during the week and you’ll soon reach your weekly activity goals:
1. Take the stairs. Forget the lift and the escalators for a swift climb up the stairs. The more, the better - work those calves, thighs and glutes!
2. Get up, stand up. Invest in a standing desk, or set up a timer for reminders to go for a walk or simply stand every 30 minutes. Instead of sending an email to a workmate, go over and chat to them.
3. Walk this way. Taking the bus to work? Jump off before your stop and walk the rest of the journey. During your lunch break, go for a brisk walk - you’ll return feeling energised and beat that dreaded 3pm slump, too.