How Much Should You Exercise?

How much exercise do you need to do each week? The most popular answer to that question is 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. If you do the math that comes out to 150 minutes a week (see Mr. Christianson I was listening during 3rd grade math class). But does it make a difference how you break up those 150 minutes? Does it have to be half hour blocks of exercise? According to new research out of Canada the answer to that question is no.

Researchers from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario assessed 2,324 Canadian adults who were involved in the 2007 to 2011 cycles of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Participants wore accelerometers for one week to track their exercise. The participants who were already leading active lifestyles were separated out and divided into two groups. One group was asked to work out five to seven days a week for at least 30 minutes, while the other group was instructed to exercise one to four times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

The study found that as long as participants accumulated a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise over the course of a week, the way they divided up their workouts had very little effect on the odds of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and large waist circumference that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Why is this important? Well if you have a job that takes up 40-60 plus hours a week, kids who have soccer practice, ballet lessons, little league games, a spouse who would like to see your smiling yet haggard face occasionally, not to mention grocery shopping laundry and house work. Whew! Carving out 30 consecutive minutes can seem next to impossible.

What this and other new studies show is the answer to the question how much should you exercise seems to be a minimum of 150 minutes per week but how you break up your exercise is unimportant. So, doing 5 minute blocks of calisthenics and strength training 6 times during the day five days a week or getting up early on Sunday morning and taking a 3 hour bike ride are just as effective at combating metabolic syndrome. What that means my friend is you have the option of getting your exercise in a way that fits you and your lifestyle and that’s a very good thing. Anyway you want it, that’s the way you need it, anyway you want it…did we just have a Journey moment there?