It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough exercise, but how much is enough? In 2008, guidelines were published that explained how much physical activity Americans should be getting. The results showed that the minimum amount of activity was 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.
Interestingly enough, the leisure time activities of individuals were also studied. This showed that those with an activity level below the recommendation had a 20% lower mortality rate. Those that met the guidelines saw a 31% decrease in mortality and those that exceeded the guidelines by three to five times saw a 39% decrease in mortality.
Most people recognize that there are health benefits of exercising regularly. Now there is proof showing that engaging in regular physical activity will lower cancer risk and risk of cardiovascular disease. As the studies have shown, every little bit counts, even activity at a moderate level.
So how can you tell the difference between moderate and vigorous physical activity? If you can carry on a conversation while being active, you’re moving at moderate pace. When the intensity increases such that the heart rate climbs into the 130 to 180 range, this is considered a vigorous mode. However, you should not be doing that for extended periods of time, as it is hard to keep pace. One example of this is high-intensity interval training or HIIT. With HIIT, you push yourself to that max limit and then let yourself recover. This not only improves cardiovascular fitness but will also count toward vigorous activity.
A mix of moderate and vigorous activity is recommended for most people. Try to pair moderate activity with stress reducing activities, such as talking a walk outdoors. This will allow you to relax, lower your cortisol, stimulate your senses, and give you an overall sense of well-being. If you’re still wondering how much is enough, a good target is four to six hours per week of exercise, with the type and style being based on what is important to you.