How Much Exercise is Enough?

Along the lines of my recent proclamation that I want to be an ‘active’ person, several internet articles/videos, etc. have caught my eye.  These are all pretty popular sites, so forgive me if you have already seen them.

This first video is LONG, but it is very cleverly done, and the information from a medical doctor was really interesting to me.  The basic assertion is that 1/2 hour of exercise a day can make a BIG difference in your life.

The next article is actually the blog entry from a writer for the NY Times.  I came across it by way of PJ’s blog.  I am surprised I haven’t heard more reference to it.  Maybe because I don’t read that many blogs any more?  Anyway, The Fat Trap is a pretty interesting article about the difficulties of losing weight and keeping it off.  There are over 800 comments on this blog, so it caught someone’s attention!  She references Lynn Heraldson, the first blogger I ever read, and a successful maintainer.  She also references the National Weight Control Registry.  So Debra SSY’s defunct blog (her name, not mine) got a bit of action from it.  Debra had her blog up for a year, and spent a lot of time researching the science behind weight loss maintenance, and challenging the powers that be to do more work in this area.  Her blog is a very good reference tool for anyone serious about maintaining their weight loss.  Okay, this doesn’t have that much to do with exercise, except that it mentions the NWCR.  And their data says that most people who maintain a large (more than 30 pound) weight loss for a long period of time exercise on an average of 1 hour a day.

So when Miz posted her excellent blog on ‘being soft of core,’ (exercising consistently for shorter periods of time,) I asked her what she thought about those stats.  And she had such a good answer, (which I almost missed because I forgot to go back and see if she answered,) that I thought the conversation was worth repeating here:

I commented:

 I do love your concept of being ‘soft of core.’ I have taken that to heart, and now feel okay when I am done with my weights session at the gym after 20 minutes. Just this week, I have shortened the doggie walks and added in some stretches and core exercises (haha, that’s what I thought your blog topic was this morning) which makes me very happy.

Keeping my exercise plan something that I can continue for life is so very important to me. One thing I do think about, though, is the stat that most previously overweight people who have successfully maintained that loss long term exercise one hour a day. Do you have any thoughts on that?

And Miz replied:

well I do and I don’t. I know it’s all backed up by science so I agree BUT I also have seen so many friends who have regained their weight because an hr a day felt overwhelming so they STOPPED WORKING OUT COMPLETELY.
I wonder what would have happened had they found something they’d actually do timewise (30? 40?)?
Would they have regained some?
Still all?

I’m not sure….

I guess I’m taking the middle ground on this one.  Most days I do exercise more than 20 or 30 minutes.  Probably not quite an hour.  And if a day comes along when I feel too tired to move, I’ll be satisfied with the 20 minute stroll with the doggies before it gets dark.

Last link.  And again, not much to do with exercise.  But worth mentioning again.  I just re-subscribed to the Nutrition Action Healthletter.   They do their best to present the latest scientific research on nutrition and health.  After all, the newsletter is published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and their byline is “Transforming the American Diet.”  I can say that they were definitely a big part in transforming this American woman’s diet!

And with that, I am off to walk the doggies and head to the gym for a session with the exercise bike!

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10 thoughts on “How Much Exercise is Enough?

  1. I would think it would matter how much you want to restrict your eating. I’d rather exercise an hour+ a day, so I don’t have to restrict, though I still can’t overeat. If I got hurt, or got busy, I would probably have to cut back the food somewhat, which doesn’t appeal. I like exercise, especially cardio, so it very much appeals.

  2. It’s so complicated, isn’t it? Well, at least at first. I think it takes years of experience and experimenting to figure it out. I’m still figuring it out! It’s taken me several months to get comfortable with less than 60 minutes of exercise every day. In the end, it’s our bodies that make that decision. Oh…and I love Nutrition Action Healthletter 🙂 And you, too!

  3. Awesome links here, Debby! I’m at 3 years of maintenance, and I average 30-45 minutes/day of exercise. Some days less, some days more, some days none at all. I think long-term success is in the overall intensity and consistency. Too many days of ‘strolling’ and I’ll gain weight, I’m sure, but now and then, it’s fine. Usually, I just sent my mind and intentions to “vigorous-but-don’t-hurt-anything”, and see what happens. It’s working, so far. 🙂

  4. I’ve said before that my resistance to strength training was that all the programs seemed to require way more minutes of it than I was willing to do. It cut into my running and I’m not willing to give up running. Then along came Rich Kreps with the Zero Excuses program and it fits me perfectly. Most days I exercise 60-75 minutes, including my run. Some days I have another hour session in the evening at Muay Thai. For now, it’s sustainable and I’m enjoying it. I do occasionally have days when it all feels like too much and I have no problem at all saying when and taking a rest day. The true trick is to find what works for YOU. If 30 minutes a day is all someone would willingly do, then I say go for the 30 minutes over not exercising at all.

  5. I agree, better to get SOME exercise than NONE…and I also go along with the whole “do what you enjoy” thing, because for me, if I don’t like it, I won’t do it.

  6. I admire people like you and Charlotte who actually like to read research articles. I, however, see the word “research” and my eyes glaze over and next thing you know I’m daydreaming about Hugh Jackman and a beach.

    But anyway, I love Miz’s(‘z?) answer – better to do 30 minutes for the rest of your life than to do one hour for 6 months only. I put that Fat Trap article on my FB group page and go zero response from it, so I think it’s not something that any of them wanted to hear (yeah it was long and I drifted off a couple of times, but I thought it was interesting).

  7. For me it all depends. I like a minimum of 30, but I prefer an hour – with preference to do 1/2 hour in the morning and another half hour in the evening. It just doesn’t always work that way. Of course, then there are those summer days where I spend several hours on the bike and love pretty much every minute of it!

    I’ve been a bit tired lately, though, and 30 minutes on non lifting days and 60 on lifting days is about all I have been doing.

  8. What struck me also about the Fat Trap article was the picture slideshow of the couple that looked absolutely miserable in the rigidity of their exercise /diet regime but looked so happy in their fat photo. Some of the 800 comments also reference that. Ok, that doesn’t mean that I think we should be ‘fat and happy’. But we need a life that is overall doable and healthy and happy and joyful.

    But 6 to 7 hours a week of exercise, unless you absolutely love it , can be extreme. I can say that it is extreme for me. I did it for a while and I enjoyed some of it and hated some of it. The bottom line is I can not maintain it for it the rest of my life. When I finally hit my lowest number of pounds lost in the spring, I started having pain issues, joint issues, frequent illnesses. Then I didn’t exercise as much or as intensely. I was so full of guilt, but this was real pain. My joints hurt and my arthritis is worse, and I’m just building my way back to regular fitness shorter stints several times a week now. This week I’ve done some Yoga and stretching, dog walking and ‘just me; walking, Elliptical , biking, weight training. No session over 20 minutes because that’s what my body could tolerare and it seems I’m tolerating more. So one day at a time.

  9. You know? I saw news *of* the article in a lot of places, but I didn’t read the article itself. I think that I got a little burned out on research…I should probably grab it and save it for later.

    I love Miz’s response. I can’t speak for anyone but me, but when I was first diagnosed, my doctor recommended 30 minutes, 3 days per week, but the diabetes educator recommended 5 days per week. (Bet they weren’t expecting me to learn to *love* fitness and embark on so many fun fitness adventures! 🙂 I think my body likes it best when I do something active 30-45 minutes for 5 days, although sometimes it’s fun to do more when I can squeeze it in. And I have to mix it up…to much of one activity gets boring.

    I gained weight last year, more in the latter half when I started not doing as much strength classes and ratcheted down my cardio and eating more. According to Daily Mile, though, I burned 13 lbs by exercising…so that’s my answer regarding how much *more* I would have gained, had I not exercised at all. Something is *always* better than nothing, and even low intensity exercise has benefits other than weight loss or maintenance: lower blood glucose levels, better bone density if you do weight-bearing exercises like on-your-feet cardio or weight lifting, better cardiovascular fitness from the cardio.

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