Guest article by Sam Hadadi.
From running or walking to dancing round the room with your kids and pumping iron in the gym, we all know that exercise is the key to a happy body.
Yet there’s one thing we can never quite agree on - just how much exercise do we need to stay healthy? Do we need to hit the gym every day, or can we take it easy now and again with rest days, too?
For years, people across the globe have been told that 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise is the perfect foundation for a fit, strong body.
However, before you start reaching for your stopwatch, hold your horses – new research has shown that we may need even less exercise than we once thought to be at our peak.
Experts in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology carried out a critical review of literature which looked into how long we should be exercising for. Surprisingly, the results show that we may need far less exercise than we’ve always been told – as little as 75 minutes each week (that’s half of what was previously thought) could lead to huge health benefits.
This latest research goes at loggerheads with current advice and could even force governments around the world to revise physical activity and exercise guidelines.
As the researchers behind this study said: "One of the greatest myths perpetuated within physical activity promotion…is the belief that you need to engage in a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to obtain health benefits.
"However…there is compelling evidence that health benefits can be accrued at a lower volume and/or intensity of physical activity. These health benefits are seen in both healthy and clinical populations.
"Marked health benefits can be observed in persons living with disability and/or chronic disease with volumes of activity that are well below the 150 minutes per week threshold.”
While many of us (including the Lucy Bee team!) love moving every single day, it’s simply not possible for all of us. Thankfully, this new research means that we don’t need to exercise as much as we once thought to stay healthy.
In fact, just over ten minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day (that’s one HIIT session, or a quick power walk or sprint in the park) could be enough to keep our body happy.
As a result of this, the authors of the study think that health bods should “reduce barriers to physical activity participation” so that everyone can reap the rewards. They also believe that individuals – especially those with health problems – should be given a tailored approach to exercise that reflects their personal needs and fitness levels.
However, some scientist types have warned that we should still take this new research with a pinch of salt. Some of have said that the literature reviewed “may be less rigorously researched than the scientific evidence used to produce clinical practical guidelines recommendations.”
Whatever the story, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on – it’s important to get moving (in one way or another!) to stay fit and healthy. Some exercise is always better than none…
Whether you want to run, jump, swim or fly (or, at least, try out Parkour1 – flying can be saved for those superheroes alone), exercise can help our body to stay as healthy as possible.
Worryingly, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (it’s responsible for around 3.2 million deaths every single year, according to the World Health Organisation.) Meanwhile, regular exercise is a wonderful preventive treatment for all kinds of illness and diseases. In fact, evidence shows that exercise could reduce 25 chronic medical conditions by up to 30 per cent, as well as helping to prevent premature mortality.
Other benefits of exercise2 include:
· Prevent obesity and weight gain
· Eases blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels
· Boosts mood
· Sends energy levels soaring
· Helps you to get a better night’s sleep
Interested in shaping up? Our website has an entire section about keeping fit with a range of tips and ideas3.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.