Sussex Performance Centre

How Much Exercise Do You Actually Need?

It is no secret that exercise is good for your health; we all know what we need to do to improve our lives. Yet, every year around 300,000 cardiac-related deaths occur in the United States that could have been prevented by only exercising for 30 minutes a day. This article explores the importance of exercise for heart health.

  • The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.
  • Any type of aerobic activity can benefit heart health, including walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, jumping rope, rowing, and sports.
  • A sedentary lifestyle can lead to various health risks, including diabetes, increased fat accumulation, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is important to consult with a physician before starting new physical activity, especially for people with heart conditions.

Why exercise is important to heart health

Studies show that exercising even later in life reduces cardiovascular events such as heart attacks. According to a 2017 study, even after exercising just one time, your heart starts to precondition itself for more.

Exercise has been clinically proven to effectively reduce the risk and symptoms of hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a sedentary lifestyle is one of the five major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Regular exercise will help strengthen your heart muscles, keep your weight under control, and decrease your bad cholesterol and blood sugar.

Hormones are released with physical exertion that causes your blood vessels to dilate, increasing the oxygen-rich hemoglobin you get to your muscles, including your heart. Your oxygen requirement reduction happens over time as you build up your endurance to exercise.

How much exercise is needed for heart health

Do you need to go to the gym for hours several times a week? Absolutely not! 

The AHA recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. You can also do a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. 

For example, you could do 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity three times a week and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most other days. Studies show that short intervals of activity can decrease your cardiac risks by 30–40%.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder but still have the ability to speak. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe hard and fast. You may not be able to talk during vigorous-intensity activity. 

Other benefits of exercising

Exercise helps improve the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, including your heart. Over time, as you build endurance and engage in regular exercise, your body’s oxygen consumption requirements decrease, and your cardiovascular system becomes more efficient at supplying oxygen to your muscles.

When it comes to exercising, though, it is not just the heart that benefits. It can also increase your body positivity, improve your mental health, and decrease your blood pressure. Regular physical activity has also been associated with improved sleep quality, enhanced cognitive function, better weight management, reduced risk of certain cancers, and improved overall quality of life.

A sedentary lifestyle, characterized by a lack of physical activity and excessive sitting or lying down, is associated with various health risks. It is estimated that 5.3 million deaths yearly worldwide could be avoided by engaging in the recommended amount of exercise. 

Even breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with short bouts of activity can be beneficial.

Do children need to exercise?

Yes, children need exercise just as much as adults do. Exercise helps children to stay healthy, build strong bones and muscles, and maintain a healthy weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day.

If I am skinny, do I need to work out?

Yes, you still need to exercise even if you are skinny. Exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight, build strong bones and muscles, and improve your overall health.

If I have a physical job, does that handle the exercise requirements?

A physical job can help you to stay active, but it is not enough to meet the recommended amount of exercise. You still need to do additional exercise outside of work.

Stay active and stay health this summer 2023!

Elements of this article were taken from:

How Many Times a Week Should You Exercise? A Comprehensive Guide
How to Lose Belly Fat: A Scientific Approach
Embracing Fitness After Your 20s: Unlocking Lifelong Energy and Strength
Why Strength Training Can Reduce Chances of Weight Gain During and Post Menopause