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How much should each person exercise?

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

How much should each person exercise?

“A body in motion = human beings are better walkers than runners. By that it means we walk more efficiently (burn less as a rule than when we run),” Gretchen Reynolds, The First 20 Minutes (New York Times best seller).

“A new statement = physical activity would be associated with increasing benefits to health “

The question is, how much exercise each persons needs remains unclear. We also need to decide how much exercise we are willing to undertake, realistically, to reach high standards of fitness.

Some important definitions (from the National Health Service):

  • Fitness : Refers to cardiovascular or cardio respiratory activity.

  • Physical Fitness: A measure of how efficiently we transport oxygen to labouring muscles to maintain movement.

  • A physically fit person: Has strong lungs, a robust health and sturdy muscles.

So, how much should each person exercise?

In 1990 it was argued that adults should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, and preferably, all days of the week.

Then, in 2008, it was argued that we should walk or exercise lightly for 150 minutes a day in order to improve your health.

Nowadays, according to NHS advice, the same 150 minutes of moderately intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, should take place every week, combined with muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week (i.e. exercises that work all the major muscle groups; legs, hips, back, shoulders, chest and arms).

The alternative, according to current expert thinking, is that 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic (such as running) and muscle strengthening two days a week or more is the healthy objective.

What is important is such a training regime, I would argue, is the intensity of the exercise undertaken, as this is also a key factor to reducing the risk of heart disease.

Or, to put it another way, arduous exercise will be a more efficient was of training, while moderately intensive physical activity is more beneficial than low intensity physical activity in the prevention of cancer.

Overall, the latest scientific evidence suggests that benign versions of interval training can also provide significant performance benefits for the average person.

Balancing all this advice out, the key point is that being generally active is the easiest, cheapest and best way to decrease the causes of mortality.

In this context I would advise anyone looking for an ongoing training routine to use the following model:

  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week (i.e. swimming).

  • 75 minutes of more vigorous activity (such as running) every week.

  • Weight training at least twice a week.

To advance your levels of fitness even further, I would suggest integrating increased intensity interval training into your exercise routine.

As I outline here on my site, I am passionated about all aspect of fitness.

As well as continually learning on a daily basis from my clients and from the execution of my work, I am also an avid reader of any material related to integrated fitness training and always look forward learning more from those experts who also have this passion for fitness training, some of whom have undertaken their own investigations and research into new approaches to fitness training.

One such study, The Temple of Perfection, by Eric Chaline (below), will be published in March 2015, follows the development of the gymnasium, from 2,800 years ago to the modern era, and outlines how the fitness industry attempts to redefine itself today.

It is a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in fitness training and how to benefit from the modern gymnasium environment.


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