How Much Exercise Does It Really Take to Stay Healthy?

by Tracey Pollack

We all know that exercise is good for us, but we’re bad at squeezing it in. Between your family, your work and trying to have a life, it can be tough to fit in fitness on a daily basis. But there’s no need to run yourself ragged training for a marathon or jump through hoops at bootcamp to give your health a boost. So how much exercise do you really need to enjoy the healthy benefits? Turns out, a little bit of exercise can still do a lot of good.

Why Something Is Better Than Nothing

Studies show that regular exercise can help you live longer and improve your mental health. Of course, you care about your mind and your body. But admit it, you want to know the least amount of exercise it takes for better health.

Luckily, recent research has shown that even a tiny bit of activity can do a body good. Doing small amounts of activity all throughout the day can quickly add up to major benefits. So if the idea of three-hour gym sessions and five-mile bike rides is completely overwhelming, don’t sweat it! Fit in whatever you can, whenever you can, to enjoy the healthy benefits.

What’s Just Enough to Be Good Enough?

No time for long workouts? No problem! When you’re striving for better health, experts have recommended the following healthy guidelines:

  • Aerobic Activity – Fit in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic activity, or a blend of both, over the course of a week. When they say moderate intensity, they mean any exercise that gets your heart pumping, such as brisk walking, tennis or gardening. Vigorous-intensity activities will get your heart rate up even higher, such as running, swimming laps and aerobic dancing.

  • Strength Training – Do some strength training activities for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Think lifting weights, using resistance bands or simply doing push-ups.

Remember, you don’t need to do it all at once. In fact, you shouldn’t! It’s actually better to spread your exercise all throughout the week. Even small bursts of activity will count to your healthy goals.

How to Get It All in Without Going All Out

When time is tight or your motivation is low, try these sneaky tips to make exercise seem effortless:

  1. Go for a walk. Believe it or not, taking a stroll at a comfortable pace is one of the easiest and best workouts you can do.

  2. Make the most of your TV time by fitting in some exercise while you watch your favorite shows. Find an at-home workout you enjoy and break it up between the commercial breaks.

  3. Take the stairs. Get off the elevator routine and climb the stairs instead. You’ll still get where you’re going, but you’ll be healthier when you arrive.

  4. Wake up a few minutes early and use this extra time to squeeze in a little exercise. You’ll get a jumpstart on the day, as well as your healthy goals.

When it comes to gaining the benefits of exercise, you only need a little activity every week to improve your health in the long run.

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