How much exercise and fitness do you need to stay healthy or at least become healthier? It’s preciously little and you don’t have to devote your whole life to the quest.
“I Just Don’t Have Time!”
When I talk with people who abhor the thought of fitness, one of the reasons why they are not starting to get active is “I just don’t have time”.
Of course, some of these people have no problem finding time to hang out on Facebook for an hour or watch their favorite sitcom.
But there’s a misconception. They think getting the benefits of exercise requires tremendous amounts of athletic activity and is useless if you can’t devote your life to it. In reality, tiny efforts make a difference too:
The Numbers Game
For the best results with least possible effort, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control; you know, the guys we put our hopes on to find cures for impending zombie apocalypses) recommend 2.5 hours of moderate intensity cardio and two whole body strength training units per week.
However, in the video I also said that “more is almost always better”, which means going beyond this recommendation. That I took from a very large project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where they tracked the data of 120,000 runners since 1991, keeping score about how much they run and how that influences their health.
The results were quite clear: the more active people in industrialized societies were, the lower their risk for three of the biggest causes of health problems (diabetes, stroke and heart attack) was. One of the studies, for example, found that for every meter per second run faster, participants lowered their risk of heart attack by 54% and for angina pectoris by 53%.
It also made a difference for less common illnesses: for every additional daily mile people ran, they also lowered their risk for glaucoma (a degeneration of the optical nerve) by 8%.
Every Little Bit Helps
Even if you just decide to walk to the supermarket instead of taking the car that is a tiny bit of exercise and not worthless. If you are comfortable with it, you can of course do more, but you don’t have turn yourself into Olympics material to enjoy better health.
Picture courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.