How Much Do you Need to Exercise?

A little background first if you don’t mind. When I started writing this blog it was all about weight loss. Burn those calories. Now, six years later, the scope has expanded to embrace good health and long life. That sounds so general, doesn’t it? Weight loss is specific. Most people need to and want to do it. But good health and long life – generalities. Hard to get your mitts around airy fairy stuff like that.


In the early days of this blog I wrote about increasing exercise to burn calories and reduce weight or at least permit yourself to eat more and not gain weight. Well, it turns out, there’s much more to it than that.

On my How to Lose Weight and Keep it off Page, I quote:
According to the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services:
“Adults 18 to 64 should get:
2.5 hours/wk of moderate intensity exercise.
OR 1.25 hours a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity
Or Some combination of the above – equivalent episodes of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week.”

In 2015, the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute and others did a huge study on exercise and came to some fascinating conclusions, not just about calories and losing weight.

Here’s what the New York Times reported: “They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

“But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

“Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

“The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.”

Stacy Simon of the American Cancer Society said, “There are many, many ways to get 3 to 5 times the recommended amount of leisure-time physical activity.

“They include:
•    Walking 7 hours a week
•    Biking leisurely 5 hours a week
•    Running at a 10 minute-per-mile pace for 2 hours and 15 minutes a week

“For people who are getting less than the recommended amount of activity, adding even a little bit more helps. According to Alpa Patel, PhD, a researcher for the study and also American Cancer Society Strategic Director, Cancer Prevention Study 3, “The greatest benefit is going from doing nothing to doing something, even if it’s less than the minimum recommended amount.”

So, in answer to the question how much do you need to exercise, it’s really up to you. If you do the minimum recommended exercise and eat intelligently, your weight problem will likely disappear. But, the good news is that you don’t need to do a whole lot more exercise to get your weight down and extend your life.

Finally, I just want to remind you about my Page Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits. If you are going to be living to a ripe old age,  you might like to have  your brain fully functional, too.



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Filed under aging, Exercise, longevity

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