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That depends.

What do you hope to accomplish by exercising?

Exercise is one of those things that many people launch into with a gym bag full of unrealistic expectations and assumptions that aren’t true. The most common assumption about exercise is that it will help you lose weight. Well…research shows it doesn’t really help weight loss that much. I will address the truth about exercise for weight loss in my next post.

Many people will start to exercise hoping it will pay the price for their bad eating habits. That’s precisely where it packs the least punch.

As we continue to discuss moving and exercise, I wanted to share the minimum recommendation for health (not for weight loss). For non-exercisers and exercise haters, this is where the conversation starts.

This guideline can help you make wise and even life-extending decisions about what you might want to do. This is for you if all you really want is to get healthy, not compete as an American Ninja Warrior.

For maintaining health and preventing illness, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) says that you need:

Per week:

  • at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week
  • or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity,
  • or a combination of both moderate and high intensity exercise.
  • at least twice per week, muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or doing push-ups

The CDC muscle strengthening guideline is a little vague. For more information, here is a great resource from MyFitnessPal:

Now, have you ever wondered how many people actually meet this minimum guideline? Here is the answer:

  • nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, (potentially setting themselves up for years of health problems)
  • About 52% of people report they met only the minimum cardio recommended
  • About 29% met only the muscle-strengthening components.

Read the full source article here:

The article notes that the older we get, the less likely we are to exercise enough or regularly. I think we already knew that.

OK, so what now?

First, don’t despair if you don’t meet these guidelines. It might sound hard to get from sedentary to the CDC recommendation, but it isn’t. Read my previous post on How to Get Unsedentary for an idea you can try, or adapt and make your own.

Here are a few more ideas to help you move more:

  • Get a step/activity tracker. I have a Fitbit and love it. I find it motivating, even after using it for a few years. There are also phone apps you can try before you invest in a tracking device.
  • Listen to books, podcasts or radio programs while you walk, or even on a bike, elliptical, etc. Make your walking time productive or informative, whatever you choose.
  • If you like music and are prone to dance, turn on music while you cook, clean or meander around the house.
  • Pace while you are on the phone.

Even if you have fantasies about more aggressive fitness goals, these are still very solid ideas to get you started.

Over the next 30 days, work up to 30 minutes a day of walking or other moderately brisk low impact exercise. By the end of 30 days you will have a good foundation of consistency to take you to the next level.

It’s not as daunting as you think and the benefits include feeling better and less chance of dying of a heart attack!