Exercise – How Much Is Enough?

4 mins
July 7, 2016

Why exercise?

Physical exercise practiced regularly is essential for maintaining optimal health regardless of age, sex or ethnic background. Numerous studies have shown that physical exercise or sporting activity practiced regularly has a preventive effect on various diseases. Today, physical exercises are therapeutic tools in the treatment of the most prevalent conditions in developed countries, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even cardiovascular disorders.

Physical exercise increases the ability of the arteries to drive the blood, so improving blood pressure and prevent or treat diseases associated with the heart and blood vessels. A sedentary lifestyle is considered a cardiovascular health risk factor.

Since exercise requires energy expenditure, one of the beneficial effects of exercise it is exerted on the metabolism of fat and glucose. It is noteworthy that engaging in physical exercises regularly is the only non-pharmacological measure (a measure that does not involve the use of medications) that can raise levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). The harmful fats and cholesterol are reduced with continued exercise. Equally well known are the beneficial effects of exercise on hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), which acts on two fundamental levels: on one level, physical exercise promotes glucose uptake by muscle; on the other, physical exercise is the only non-pharmacological measure can reduce muscle resistance to insulin action thereby lowering the risk of diabetes.

Physical exercises have beneficial effects on our mental and emotional state as well as our anthropometric aspects (such as body weight, waist circumference, body mass index etc.). Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are happier and have significantly less stress. A person who exercises regularly will change their anthropometric parameters and reduce their body fat especially in the most difficult locations, such as the waist and thighs.

How Much Is Enough?

In a survey that monitored the jogging patterns of over 1,000 people over a period of 12 years, it was found that too much of jogging is just as bad as no exercise at all. The study found that engaging in moderate intensity exercises for a maximum of two and half hours a week is best for improved health (150 minutes of exercise per week). This translates to 30 minutes of exercise a day for 5 days each week. Just as there is a cap on exercising, not exercising is detrimental to one’s health. Performing vigorous exercises for 75 minutes a week is also ideal.

Engaging in highly intense exercises for prolonged lengths of time could damage your heart. For a normal healthy person, the heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute. However, in endurance athletes especially as they grow older, the heart beats about 30 times per minutes or even less. Experts say since the heartbeat is controlled by part of the nervous system, this could be as a result of an overdrive of that part of the nervous system. Further studies suggest that the decrease in heart rate in endurance athletes could be as a result of a decrease in the level of a protein which is required by the heart to beat normally. In any case, more studies need to be done to make conclusions. Nonetheless, the benefits of exercising outweigh any risk associated with it.

How You Should Exercise

It is recommended that adults perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as

  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycling at 8 kilometres per hour to 14.5 kilometres per hour on a level ground
  •  Yoga
  • Basketball
  • Volley ball
  • Playing double tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower, etc. for 150 minutes each week.

Or adults could perform vigorous exercises such as

  • Jogging or running
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming fast
  • Playing hockey
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Skipping rope, etc. for 75 minutes each week

How do you exercise and how is it affecting your health and wellness? Share them with us below.

Edú Ortega Ibarra, MSc

Edú is a Mexican Full-time Research Professor at Universidad del Istmo. He holds a Bachelors degree in Nutrition (Univsersidad Veracruzana, Mexico) and Masters degree in Food and Nutrition Security from Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico) and McGill University (Canada).

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