How much exercise is enough?

Does this sound like you?

You wake up bright and early in the morning quick brekky, rush to work and by the time you manage to arrive home you feel run down and exhausted. Definitely not feeling like exercising or the need to exercise. However, the latest research shows that around 50% of Australians simply not getting enough physical activity to meet even the minimum targets needed for good health. Lack of active lifestyle can not just impact body image, but lead to obesity, which has a range of associated health problems.

So how much exercise is enough?

The minimum amount recommended for good health is 30 minutes of ‘moderate’ activity, five (or preferably, seven) days a week. Moderate intensity is defined as a level that causes a “slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate”.

Brisk walking is recommended because it’s cheap, needs no fancy equipment apart from supportive shoes, and is less daunting for those used to doing nothing at all. A kilometer in 15 minutes is a good guide. But you can also mow the lawn, vacuum, dig in the garden, swim or cycle – as long as your breathing and heart rate are sufficiently raised. If you can talk but not sing, you’ve got the pace about right.

If you increase your level of activity through out your day, you dramatically reduce your odds of coronary artery disease – the fatty buildups in blood vessels which are a key risk factor for heart attacks, risk of depression, diabetes and stroke.

However, one must remember that above is only a guide line for a minimum amount of physical activity average person should do everyday. Based on what most people eat these days, high calorie intensive diets, we need approximately 60 minutes of moderates physical activity, everyday of the week or alternatively at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity 7 days a week.

On the other hand if you are after improvements in your fitness as well as health benefits, you need to increase intensity of the physical activity, which will lead to improved efficiency of your heart, lungs and major muscles groups. Professor Wendy Brown, from Queensland University’s School of Human Movement Studies states that “Fitness demands intensity, you’ve really got to make your heart and lungs work overtime.”