OK, so it comes as no surprise (Spoiler Alert) most of us know exercise is good for you. Yup, it’s true and guess what, we should probably be eating more fruits and veg right?
Most of us inherently understand we’re supposed to be active but we think most of us also feel we could (should?) be doing better at this.
Life gets in the way of dedicating time to taking care of our physical well-being. If we’re honest with ourselves, it turns out, we’re not that great at doing what we’re supposed to do. I mean, personally, during COVID, I built a nice home gym in my garage, which I now typically walk by on my way to my man cave to chill and binge Netflix! 😱
How Much Activity Is Currently Recommended?
Did you know the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends adults do a minimum of 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (e.g. walking briskly) and 1.25 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (e.g. running, jogging, cycling) or an equivalent combination? They also recommend muscle strengthening exercises (MSE) at least 2 times per week targeting all major muscle groups.
How Is The Planet Doing?
Not great. Yup, you read that right, the WHO, through its magical population-based research, has figured out that 1.4 billion adults don’t meet the recommended aerobic activity levels and 70% of us don’t meet the recommendations for muscle-strengthening exercises.
“70% of us don’t get the amount of physical activity each week recommended to improve our well-being”
So, what does this mean for our health? Well…this results in a bunch of us every year succumbing to what they call “physical inactivity deaths”. In fact, this is now ranked as the #4 all-time leading risk factor for death, and it is something we can prevent.
Why Don’t We Bother Getting Enough Exercise?
Let’s face it, being active is easy to do but it’s also easy not to do it. The current physical activity (PA) promotion attempts have been largely ineffective because:
- Current targets appear largely unachievable by the public…I mean seriously, who is going to work out 5 – 6 hours each week when you can kick back on the couch with an adult beverage and some snacks while binging Netflix or watch pro-athletes be active?
- The end goal of improving your health may not provide enough motivation to get us moving. But, what does that mean? Keep reading to find out.
What's The Minimum?
OK, so now we know that most of us don’t do the amount of physical activity the WHO says we’re supposed and this is causing all of us to suffer poor quality of life and we die sooner than we should. These researchers decided that we don’t do what we know we should because it seems like way too much and the end goal is too esoteric and fuzzy.
So, they took a different approach. Rather than nagging us about the optimal amount, they tried to figure out what is the minimum amount of activity we can do to create a positive health benefit.
They looked at 400,000 adults in the United States to determine the minimum amount of aerobic and strengthening exercise necessary to create a positive health benefit.
You can check out their paper published in the September issue of BMJ Sports Med here.
What They Figured Out
Adults should perform at least 1 hour per week of aerobic exercise (moderate and/or vigorous, whichever is more enjoyable and sustainable) to significantly improve health and reduce the risk of death by all causes. They found little evidence that more than 3 hours per week of aerobic exercise yielded any additional benefits. Additionally, MSE performed 1-2 times per week independently improves health and reduces the risk of death by all causes and furthers health improvements gained from aerobic PA.
According to their findings, the optimal exercise regimen for reducing the risk of death by all causes is a total 3 hours (180 minutes) per week of combined aerobic and Muscle Strengthening Exercises (MSE’s).
So, if you’re a gym rat, that could look like 1 hour total of Aerobic and 2 x 1-hour strength sessions every week. If you don’t go to a gym, maybe you build in daily 20 – 30′ brisk walks. That would get you well past the aerobic recommendations but it wouldn’t address the strength side of the equation. Can’t ignore that if you want to live longer AND have a higher quality of life as you go. Let’s face it, who wants a higher quantity of life without good quality?
Also, keep in mind, aerobic exercise should be a combination of moderate and/or vigorous and MSE’s (e.g., resistance training, calisthenics) should targetall 7 major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
Is This Doable?
We were chatting in the clinic’s lunchroom about this and at first glance, this struck us as a lot to ask. I mean we’re busy right? Rather than nagging our patients to be more active, we thought we should do a self-check to see how we measure up.
We decided that we would start keeping track of our weekly activity and see how that measures up to both the WHO’s recommendations but also, these author’s minimums.
The first step was to see how much time we spent each week being active. Instead of worrying about what we did for activities, we just wanted to start keeping track of how many minutes we dedicated to specific activities. NOTE: We haven’t used the term “exercise”. We referred to “Activity”, so, we tracked how long we did activities like:
- Walking (solo, with our dogs, kids, or partners)
- Other (dancing, taking the stairs)
National Spine, What's Your Time?
So move on over to our Facebook page to see how we’re doing.
It’ll be fun to watch how this might grow. This isn’t a challenge of sorts (unless you want to make it into one). It is more of a curiosity we have about what these researchers figured out.
Want to jump in? We’re interested to hear from you if you think these exercise recommendations are realistic?
You’re welcome to share what you did but in the early stages we’re in right now, don’t worry so much about sharing that. Just tell us how much time you spent being active.
If you are wanting more personalized tips on what exercises you should be doing, feel free to contact us or book an appointment online by clicking here.