How much should we exercise to improve our health?

Both UK and US government health departments recommend that adults should engage in at least 150 mins of exercise each week. Commonly suggested to take the form of 5 x 30 min sessions.

This would probably be considered a minimum level to the regular gym goes who may combine 30 mins on a treadmill, cross trainer, bike or rowing machine with an additional weight training session or swim to give over an hours exercise daily.

This is great, as both governments also say that more exercise is even better, but they are also clear that if you cannot do the 150 mins, then a little less is certainly better than nothing!

A relevant study recently published in Lancet has started to attract some attention. You can see the report detailed on the web site ‘ Science-Based Running ‘. It is an engaging read for any health enthusiast, or anyone thinking about improving their fitness.

The study was of huge proportions. In fact, a Taiwanese team led by Chi Pang Wen tracked over 400,000 Taiwanese adults for 8 years.

The results found that even moderate levels of exercise, under half the recommended limit, produced significant health benefits over someone who was relatively inactive

You will see in the report that for every increment of exercise, there was a significant decrease in mortality. An in respect of timings, 30 minutes a day is better than 15, 60 is better than 30, and 90 is better than 60. Also, the gains occur even faster with vigorous exercise, such as running or jogging.

So, in summary, any exercise is better than none, and up to 90 mins a day will incrementally give a greater benefit. So there is hope for those who can only manage a few mins a day of exercise, but the fanatics are certainly not doing themselves any harm either!

Read the full report on the Science-Based Running web site.

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