EXERCISE By The Numbers
Fitness is essential for good health, but for optimal benets, you need to focus on the right exercise duration and intensity.
The standard guideline for fitness is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. “It does not matter how you reach those 150 minutes,” says Dr Elizabeth Matzkin, a sports medicine physician with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It could be 50 minutes three times a week, or 30 minutes five times a week, or some other combination. Even a short burst of 10 minutes at one time is beneficial.” Why 150 minutes per week? Plenty of research has found that this amount is the sweet spot to benefit both brain and heart health. “More is always better, but less than this number tends to be less effective,” says Dr Matzkin. However, avoid cramming in more than 50 minutes of exercise at one time, she adds. Spread it out to avoid overexertion, and give yourself
plenty of rest between sessions to reduce your risk of injury.
What kind of exercise?
Most of the research that supports the 150-minute mark is based on aerobic exercise – anything that gets the heart pumping and helps you break a sweat. This can cover a range of choices, such as running, cycling, swimming, sports, power walking, elliptical training, or fitness classes. “Even everyday activities can count towards your 150 minutes, such as walking the golf course or walking to the store,” says Dr Matzkin. While it is tough to get the same aerobic response from strength training that does not mean you should exclude it. “Strength training can get the heart pumping, too, and it is good for building muscle and improving bone and joint health,” she says.