We all hear that exercise is good for you – it helps fight heart disease, can prolong your life, reduces stress, and improves brain function. For many of us though, finding time to exercise can be tough between taking the kids to school, feeding the pets, going to work... So how much is enough exercise to ensure we are at least getting some of these benefits?
The great news is that much of the incidental exercise during the day counts towards your overall activity levels, you just need to supplement these with more activities (or increase your incidental exercise)
A recent joint UK-Sweden study has found that the risk of an early death can be significantly reduced through even light or moderately intense activity such as cycling or walking (hoorah)
Combining the results of existing international studies, researches found that individuals who generally only managed minimal physical activity gained the greatest health benefits from light or moderate activity.
The study found that half an hour's moderately intense activity for five days per week (so that’s 5 hours per week in total) reduced the risk of premature death by about 19%, when compared with no physical activity. When this level increased to seven hours per week, the risk reduced by an average of 24%.
Lead researcher, James Woodcock said "This research confirms that it is not just exercising hard that is good for you, but even moderate everyday activities, like walking and cycling, can have major health benefits. “
This is brilliant news for those of us who like to walk and cycle. This means that simply walking to work (or perhaps simply walking to the next bus stop) all contributes towards your daily “hour” of exercise.
So the question is how can you be creative in including light and moderate exercise into your day.
The first thing to do is read our article on incidental exercise and exercises for the time poor. If you can manage to grab 40 minutes in your commute to and from work (that’s only 20 minutes each way) then the next step is to add an additional 20 minutes actual exercise time.
This 20 minutes is your time to relax and unwind. Perhaps you go for a walk after dinner to unwind after your day? Or if you’re an early riser wake up 20 minutes earlier and go for a walk around the block (or two).
The great news is that the benefits of that 20 minutes every day won’t just prolong your life, it’ll kick start your metabolism and improve blood circulation for the day. So no excuses, you can’t argue with 24% :)