Exercise: How much do you really need?

If you’re struggling to lose weight, or just trying to achieve overall fitness, you may have often wondered how much exercise you really need. There are sometimes confusing mixed messages coming from the experts that leaves us scratching our heads and guessing.  Some say 30 minutes daily, others say 60 minutes a day, and then you hear about the dangers of overtraining and the importance of rest and recovery. So, which is it?

Many people are under the impression that the body needs rest and days off in order to recover and to avoid injury, believing that it is better to do nothing for several days at week but all this does is set us back on our road to reach the ultimate goal. Many people perform the same movements day in and day on in a physical job without harm, the key is to listen to your body. Whether you need to rest will depend on the intensity of the exercise performed, and how you feel.

If you’re sore after running at a faster than usual pace or for a longer distance – instead of doing nothing, alternate the muscles you work. Consider another form of aerobic exercise such as cycling or swimming or even lifting weights. By lifting lighter weights for a longer period of time, you can turn this exercise into an activity that really gets your heart going.

Frequency of exercise is important – you should really get some type of aerobic exercise in every day for 30-60 minutes at minimum. Aim for at least five days a week.

Recent studies have shown that if you have a desk job, even 30 minutes a day may not be enough to counteract the negative effects of sitting. An extensive study of nearly 20,000 people found that the longer you spend sitting each day, the more likely you are to die an early death—no matter how fit you are.

This makes it even more important to get at least 30-60 minutes of exercise in each day, in addition to moving much as you can during your work day if you sit behind a computer. Stand up every half hour or so, and whenever possible, do some of your work standing and if possible, walk around the office every hour. When you go home at night, limit your TV time or watch while on a treadmill or stationery bike.

Humans were meant to move – if you want to be fit and healthy, the trick is: keep moving!