EX­ER­CISE By The Num­bers

Health & Nutrition - - FITNESS -

Fit­ness is es­sen­tial for good health, but for op­ti­mal benets, 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.

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