Whether it’s lifting weights at the gym, doing yoga or just taking a leisurely walk, there’s no doubt that more and more people are turning to exercise as an essential way to take care of their bodies.
However, exercise routines often vary from person to person – so how do people know the right amount of exercise they need to ensure they stay as healthy as possible? According to experts, there are some basic guidelines to follow.
Is this good news for people who hate to work out? Technically, you never need to do a formal workout to perform well. Tony Coffey, owner of Bloom Training and a personal trainer, notes that “survival does not depend on exercise, but simply on getting enough energy from nutrients to support total daily energy expenditure.” However, exercise is associated with “longevity.
“Total daily exercise and overall muscle mass are largely related to longevity,” he explains. “The less activity you have during the day, the less muscle you carry, the shorter your life expectancy.”
Dr. Alexis Coslick, a sports medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says it’s not clear how much exercise a person needs to survive. But to “reduce the risk of chronic disease and mortality,” people should aim for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official recommendation, which she says is “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week,” with “intense aerobic exercise and two days of muscle strengthening.”
This metric means you basically get to choose how much you want to exercise. If you’re someone who likes to sweat out HIIT classes a few days a week, you can easily reach those 75 minutes in three days. Those who prefer exercises like walking or biking that don’t raise their heart rate can exercise more frequently and moderately, or for longer periods of time.
Michelle Olson, clinical professor of exercise science at Huntington College in Alabama, says it may be easier for people who don’t like to exercise to look at step counts. She suggests aiming for 7,000 steps a day if you want to stay active without participating in any formal exercise.
Coffey agrees that walking may be a good first step for those who are exercise adverse.
He notes, “Walking is low-impact, not very time-consuming, and is strongly associated with increased cognition, mood, glycemic control, and reduced risk of all-cause mortality, blood pressure, and postprandial triglycerides.” “From a movement and exercise perspective, it’s the easiest way to improve overall health.”
As for how much exercise is required for weight loss goals, Coffey said it “depends entirely on the individual, how much weight they are aiming to lose and what their overall diet and lifestyle looks like.”
“My initial recommendation for exercise requirements is to do weight training three to four days a week while maintaining a relatively high daily step count,” he said.