Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInShare on Tumblr

Exercise is important in people’s daily lives, as proven by the multitude of health blogs, nutrition magazinesP90X commercials, and online newspaper articles circulating in the media. However, with jobs, school, and overall busy lives, it’s important to ask a critical question before committing to a consistent fitness lifestyle: “How much exercise is enough so that I can focus on the rest of my life?”

Scientists and health organizations have broadly advised people to exercise for at least 150 minutes a week to stay fit and healthy. However, it isn’t certain if that is truly the minimum exercise dosage everyone should get or if high-intensity exercise provides greater benefits than low-intensity exercise. Additionally, is it dangerous to exercise too much? Before starting any exercise regimen, it’s important to know the answers to such questions.

Fortunately, a recent study from the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) Internal Medicine gathered data on exercise habits and death records from thousands of adults and produced results that provide some clear answers. The researchers concluded from their study that a golden “sweet spot” exists for exercise that provides the greatest benefit for the time invested. This “sweet spot”, determined to be 450 minutes of exercise per week, reduces the risk of early death by stroke or cardiovascular disease by 39%. People who exercised less had a slightly higher risk of early death, but overall, the trend shows that investing in exercise provides a considerable payoff.

An overall summary of the research's findings on exercise and its benefits

An overall summary of the research’s findings on exercise and its benefits. Source: data retrieved from JAMA study; graphic produced by Quang Cao

However, if going under the “sweet spot” amount reduces these benefits, would going over the “sweet spot” do the same? The study shows that while exercising more doesn’t provide additional benefits, it also doesn’t harm one’s health, so avid athletes need not worry. The numbers also suggest that moderate-intensity workouts had the greatest effect on one’s health. Such moderate-intensity exercises can be as simple as walking on the treadmill or gardening.

Of course, 450 minutes sounds like a lot of time to invest each week. Whether students, parents, or career professionals, people lead busy lives, and it can become very tempting to push exercise and health aside. Fortunately, it’s definitely possible to keep health a priority and make it fit with the rest of life’s responsibilities. Keeping a consistent exercise routine may sound difficult and intimidating at first, but it gets easier with practice. The best way to start a routine is to make a weekly schedule that lists the workout exercises and time for each day, and this can be done stress-free and mess-free with a printable exercise calendar. Here and here are some more examples of good workout schedules to get started.

 Staying fit is tough. Doing it with friends, not so much.

Image Source: Cultura RM Exclusive/Edwin Jimenez

While hitting the weekly “sweet spot” would be a sweet goal, it would be much more rewarding to develop an active, and consistent, lifestyle. If preventing burnout—that is, becoming exhausted and losing interest—means sticking to a moderate-intensity workout for 150 minutes a week, then that’s much healthier than not having an active lifestyle at all.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInShare on Tumblr