How Much Exercise Do I Need To Stay Healthy?
Depending on your health goals, professionals typically recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week to experience the best result and positive effects. Exercise and physical activity are some of the most important things you can do for your health. Regular exercise has numerous short or long-term benefits, such as reducing the risk for heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and insomnia.
From at-home virtual workouts to gym sessions, there are many options to choose from when planning your exercise routine. With cost being one of the biggest barriers to adequate exercise routines, Mira can help you out. Working out doesn't need to be expensive, with a Mira membership, you can get access to discounted gym memberships for as little as $25 per month.
Importance of Exercise
Exercise is the process of engaging in physical activity and therefore increasing heart rate beyond resting levels. Exercise is an important part of preserving physical and mental health while also preventing a range of chronic illnesses and other health issues.
Regular exercise can provide you with several health benefits. In terms of physical health, exercise can help improve your overall agility, strengthen bones and muscles and manage weight. Regular exercise can also aid in the management of health risks, such as various cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Looking at the impact on mental health, studies have shown that regular exercise and physical activity can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and help manage symptoms of ADHD.
Risk of Not Exercising
A sedentary lifestyle or lack of regular exercise can be detrimental to your overall health and increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. A sedentary lifestyle also puts you at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Increased health risk paired with being overweight or obese can put you at risk for premature death and severe health complications.
Different Types of Exercise and Their Benefits
There are three main types of exercise: aerobic, anaerobic, and flexibility. Each type of exercise provides different benefits and works the body in different ways.
Aerobic exercise has the main goal of improving how the body uses oxygen. Aerobic exercise takes place at a low or moderate intensity and is sustained over a longer period of time. Aerobic exercise is classified as cardiovascular conditioning, in which the oxygen used is during exercise and moved to your muscles, which is dictated by your breathing control. Common examples of aerobic exercise include:
- Jumping rope
- Elliptical trainer
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises provide some of the greatest health benefits, as cardiovascular conditioning at any intensity can improve your everyday activities such as household chores and walking up flights of stairs. Some of the direct benefits of aerobic exercise are:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved circulation and blood flow to muscles
- Reduced risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease
- Improved sleep cycle
- Greater life expectancy
- Improved muscle strength in lungs, heart, and whole body
- Boost mood
- Strengths immune system
- Regulates weight
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Anaerobic exercise is the opposite of aerobic and does not use oxygen as an energy source. Anaerobic exercise involves short, fast, high-intensity bursts of movement that challenge your body quickly. Anaerobic activities break down glucose stored in your muscles as an energy source. Aerobic exercise can turn into anaerobic if you raise the intensity past the point where you can sustain the movement for an extended period. Examples of Anaerobic exercises include:
- High-intensity interval training ( HIIT)
- Weightlifting or weight training
- Interval training
- Plyometrics ( jump squats, lunges, box jumps)
Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercises provide fewer benefits than aerobic exercise in terms of cardiovascular health and burn fewer calories. However, anaerobic is more effective for building muscle, improving strength, and making the body more efficient at burning fat, even at rest.
Some other benefits of anaerobic exercise are:
- Boost energy
- Protect joints and bone health
- Boost metabolism
- Increase power
- Increase bone strength and density
- Reduce the risk of chronic illness
Flexibility training involves low-intensity exercises that help increase your joints’ total range of motion and movement. Flexibility exercises are often paired with balance training, decreasing muscle imbalances that can negatively impact your body’s movement. Flexibility training can also protect you by reducing your risk of falls or injuries. Furthermore, flexibility exercises work to lengthen and loosen muscles and connective tissues. Examples of flexibility training:
- Stretching (Static, Dynamic, Active Isolated and Myofascial Release)
- Tai Chi
Benefits of Flexibility Training
Flexibility training is equally important as anaerobic and aerobic training and is essential for warming up, cooling down, and recovering after a good workout. Benefits of flexibility training include:
- Lessen the risk of falls
- Improve posture
- Improve athletic performance
- Reduce joint pain and strain
- Prevent and correct muscle imbalances
How Much You Should Be Exercising Each Week
Thinking about how much you should be exercising each week can be broken down by the types of exercise. Experts typically group anaerobic and flexibility training into one category known as strength training, whereas aerobic exercise exists by itself. According to Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and some sort of strength training at least 2 times a week.
150 minutes a week may sound difficult to achieve; however, you can break this number down any way you like, and your schedule allows. For example, 150 minutes a week could mean 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, or 50 minutes a day 3 times a week. It's important to note that your daily movement doesn’t have to be done in one sitting; If you're using the 5 days a week plan, 30 minutes a day could be 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.
For strength training, experts recommend full-body training —using all major muscle groups — at least twice a week. You should aim to do a single set of each exercise with a weight or resistance level that is heavy enough to tire out your muscles in about 12 to 15 repetitions.
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Exercising Frequently Asked Questions FAQ(s)
Additional answers to questions you may have about exercising to stay healthy.
What's a Good Routine or Starting Point for Beginners?
If you are just starting your fitness journey, your first step should be to evaluate your health and consult your healthcare provider for any notable limitations beforehand. Understanding your limits can be an excellent guide for creating an exercise plan.
Next, you should make a plan and set realistic goals. For example, if you want to eventually finish a 5k, build your plan by including shorter walk-run exercises, then gradually build up to short runs. If you don’t have a set goal and want to create an exercise routine to maintain your health, use the 150 minutes a week and 2 strength training session format.
This could look like a 30-minute walk, 5 days a week, and on one of the days that you can fit in a longer workout, follow up your walk with a 15-20 minute full-body strength training session. Check out our guide for some of the best, free online exercise programs, and if you're in the New York City area, some of the best spots for outdoor workouts, walks and runs.
What Are Some Tools To Help With Tracking Exercise?
Tracking your daily exercise and weekly goals is a great way to stay on track and document your long-term progress. If you're looking for more tech-savvy or digital tools to track your progress, devices such as the Apple Watch, FitBit, WHOOP watch, and Oura ring are wearable devices that help you track your daily steps. They log each type of exercise (calories, heart rate, etc.) and document your sleep patterns. One of the great features of wearable devices is having all information directly connected to your phone.
Aside from wearable fitness trackers, numerous apps allow you to input your daily exercise and count daily steps, as long as your phone is with you during the day. If you are looking for something outside of the realm of technology, several fitness journals and notebooks, such as the FitJourn and Wellness Tracker, allow you to write in your daily exercise. You can also track overall wellness habits, like hydration and how many ounces of water you consume per day.
Should I Ask My Physician About What Exercises To Do?
Whether you're just beginning your fitness journey or wanting to try something new, consulting with your physician is a great step before starting a new exercise routine. As an essential member of your care team, your physician should have important information about chronic illness, family history, or new health ailments that should be taken into consideration when starting a new exercise routine.
Moderate activity is generally safe for most people, such as a brisk walk. However, suppose you have joint pain or have ongoing medical conditions such as high blood pressure. In that case, your doctor might recommend sticking with low-moderate intensity, as high intensity could do more harm than good. As you get into your new exercise routine, your doctor can evaluate your overall health and conditions and make gradual recommendations to increase your workout intensity.
Furthermore, if you have more specific goals of maintaining or losing weight, your physician can make specific recommendations to achieve those goals. They may increase the number of exercise minutes per week or adjust the type and intensity of exercise you engage in to help you meet those targets.
Incorporating an exercise routine to reach your weekly physical activity goal is equally important to your health as regular doctor's visits. Reaching 150 minutes per week of exercise — a combination of aerobic and strength training — can improve your overall physical and mental health and create a foundation to live a longer and healthier life.
If you're trying to improve your overall wellness and longevity, it's important to have a holistic approach. With a Mira Membership, you are not only getting access to discount gym memberships, but you can also receive access to low-cost virtual and urgent care, up to 80 percent off over 1,000 different prescriptions, and same-day lab testing for as little as $25 a month. Sign Up Today.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!