These days, with words like “crossfit,” “fitspo” and whatever the next word is for “you’re not sweating profusely enough” floating around, there are wide-ranging views on how much time we should all be spending exercising. The New York Times has evaluated a set of recent studies into the effects of exercise as it relates to a happier, healthier life and tried to determine a “sweet spot” for exercising.
While most of the country could certainly stand to lose a few pounds, extreme attempts to over-exercise can be just as devastating to your overall well-being.
The National Cancer institute’s study pooled collective data from six different ongoing sources to track exercise habits against death records and were not at all shocked to learn that those who never exercised at all were the most likely to die early; those who exercised even a little during the week could stave off their risk of premature death by almost 20 percent.
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.
Soon after broaching this sweet spot, the benefits of getting your sweat on plateau and you stop getting as much bang for your bang. The second study also evaluated the intensity of people’s workouts, and how this might affect their long-term benefits.
What they found was similar in how much time someone needed to exercise to remain healthy enough to avoid premature death, but lower-intensity exercises such as walking could boost a subject’s life-span.
The NYT caution that obviously, these studies are based on people’s loose recall of their exercising habits, and that no study is perfect, but the scientists involved agreed to a common consensus.
Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to “reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity,” says Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study. And a larger dose, for those who are so inclined, does not seem to be unsafe, he said.