How much exercise is good exercise?

Just how good is exercise for you? In short - very good, and don't just take our word for it. Each week there seems to be more and more evidence to suggest that sitting on your butt and not exercising will lead you down the path of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and sometimes, you can even end up with a serious bout of depression. Not good.

Doctors, the Department of Health and qualified nutritionists are not shy in advising the nation on how important exercise is and have always recommended that a person should partake in a fitness session for 30 minutes, up to five times a week.

This is the absolute minimum if you are wanting any chance of staying fit and healthy.

New research

But what's this? Researcher in the US have carried out a study on whether you can actually receive health benefits by doing LESS exercise? Well, not quite.

Basically, it can be really difficult for people to reach the recommended standards from doctors, government departments and health experts.

If you're not hitting the gym every night it could be for a variety of reasons, including health problems. Some may have a hectic schedule or lack some real fitness motivation. Although 150 minutes isn't a great deal of time, it's still may be hard for certain folks. Sometimes, if you can't do it all, you think what's the point?

So the US researchers are saying that some exercise, even a little, is way better than zilch.

What about it? Well it's been said that if people actually understood that there were still good range of health benefits out there together with supportive avenues, such as fitness blogs, then perhaps they'd be more willing to squeeze in a bit of fitness here and there.

How did US researchers come up with this?

55,000 adults aged between 18 to 100 (yes, really!) with the average age of 44 were asked to complete a questionnaire about their individual running regime within the last three months. The questions also included information on all other types of exercise that people did. This information was recorded and cross referenced with their general health well being. Anyone with a heart condition didn't partake.

Each of the people were then allocated one of six groups based on their questionnaire answers. The researchers then compared, over 15 years, exactly how many were still alive.

It was noted that those people who ran for only a few minutes a week (again, yes, really!) in comparison to those who didn't run full stop, actually lived longer. Even more shocking, there wasn't a great deal of difference between those who ran up the street and those who ran marathons! This also goes for speed; faster paced runners didn't have a heads up on the slower runners.

Really, this can't be true?

This is one of the largest health and fitness studies carried out in the US. Because the study was so large, it makes it incredibly reliable. The only problem that we can foresee is how honest the people who completed the questionnaires were. We all know how easy it is to exaggerate how fit we are and how healthy we eat. Did they tell the absolute truth? Also, it's difficult to ascertain accurately, to the second, how long a person runs for or how long they have been doing any other fitness exercise. Unless it's a class or a game of football or similar.

It should be said though, that the researchers did try to account for some anomalies.

So how should this affect you?

Yes, granted, the study only looked at what volume of running people actually did and didn't really take into account that people often use other forms of exercise such as swimming, cycling and so on. There is a tonne of evidence to suggest that most types of exercise are really very good for you, regardless how much of it you do a week. Just so long as you do some.

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