How Much Time Should I Really Spend Exercising?

We know that exercise is good for us, and we all try to do a little bit as often as we can.  But is there a magic number that is most beneficial for our health?

Well, we aren’t the only ones asking this question.  It turns out that a group of researchers wanted to find out exactly how much time a week we should be exercising to optimise our health.

And we decided to get the low down.

Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity

A study in the journal Circulation, funded by the American Heart Association, looked at the exercise habits of over 116,000 adults for over 30 years. Their workouts were split into two categories:

Moderate physical activity (MPA): This refers to exercise like walking, biking, or gentle body movement like yoga.

Vigorous physical activity (VPA): This type of exercise significantly increases heart rate and it includes things like jogging or running and more intense heart-pumping workouts like HIIT.

Current recommendations suggest that we should spend 150 to 300 minutes doing MPA per week and 75 to 150 minutes doing VPA per week, or some equivalent combination of them both.

But the researchers found that these guidelines don’t really hit the mark.

You Probably Need To Move More Than You Think

When reaping the rewards of MPA and VPA, individuals were generally spending their time doubling those guidelines.

Those who spent 300 to 600 minutes per week doing MPA and 150 to 300 minutes per week doing VPA, or an equivalent combination of both, were the ones able to live the longest, healthiest lives.

Now, this may seem like a lot of minutes to spend exercising, and we must take into account what else is going on in our lives.  But it gives us something to aim for.

So, what does this look like?

It looks like the optimal amount of exercise for healthier and longer lives is approaching 2.5 to 5 hours of vigorous activity every week or 5 to 10 hours of moderate exercise per week. For optimal fitness, an equivalent combination of both is what we should aim for.

An example breakdown to hit your MPA and VPA:

  • Walking 45 minutes every day (all MPA)
  • Doing high-intensity classes at home 5 times a week for 40 minutes (all VPA)

If you’re already hitting the mark, consider this one more reason to stay motivated. If not, just think about adding in one extra walk per week, or one extra class.  Its important not to make too many big changes too quickly.  With an already busy life, we need to give our body time to adjust and adapt.

In addition, we know that exercise isn’t the silver bullet.  We need to pair our exercise with prioritising sleep, relationships and nutrition.

If you’re looking for a new class to increase your VPA, check out our HIIT or dance classes.

If you’re looking to increase your MPA, head out for a beautiful walk and don’t forget to add yoga to your routine.