Hey Smart Moms!
And then I learned it was actually 150 minutes or 2.5 hours a week. In fact, that’s the most quoted one now with a recommended half hour every five days a week. More research seems to suggest that it’s not actually the days that are spent in exercise but the time. The total intensity and amount of your work outs have a greater effect on your lifespan than frequency does. (1) So if I missed a couple days, I should be good just spending a longer time at the gym, right?
That being said…I still think it’s a stretch to think that you could work out 2.5 hours all in one day for a week and still get the same benefits.
That’s at least the common sense I’m applying.
But my questions were these:
Will too much exercise shorten my life?
And at what point is the cut off where it’s not enough exercise to make a difference to my health and life span?
Well, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity (fast walking, easy bike riding), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (running/jogging, swimming laps), or of course a combo of the two. They also recommend two days a week of strength training (no specific amount of time). (2)
Ok so based on that I’ve hit way over the recommended time at certain parts of my life when training and stress managing. So I had to wonder is that too rough on my body? Is there such a thing as running your body into its grave with working out?
According to the most recent research (a study conducted over a 14-year span), it turns out that the “sweet spot” for our bodies clocks in around 450 minutes per week (about an hour a day). And in fact, this group of people has about a 39% reduction in mortality rate. This was the highest risk reduction.
The second highest were those who completed the 150 minutes per week (moderate exercise). This group enjoyed 31% reduction in risk of dying. At the 450 min/week mark, the benefits plateaued, but they did not decrease. In fact, those who worked out at 10x or more the recommended rate had the same amount of mortality reduction as those who met the guidelines. They did not gain any added benefit for hitting it hard, but it did not impact them negatively. (3)
So if you really need to pound it out, do it! You’re not going to get amazing added benefits, but it’s still so good for you. If it makes you happy, do it.
Ok, so I’m good for those years.
But what about the years (and there have been years) where I didn’t really do squat?
Well I don’t think it hurt me too much overall…I mean we can’t be 100% constantly. But I did find out that people who exercised under the recommended amount (150 min/week of moderate activity or 75 or vigorous) still had a 20% reduction in mortality rates. (4) Still pretty good, right?
You just don’t want to do absolutely nothing. And there have been a few years here and there where I literally did nothing because of personal struggles. We all go through it, right? We just try out best. I had to learn to forgive myself for mistakes I made and move on the best I could. That’s the best anyone can do and it is enough!
So what I learned from this is that any exercise is better than no exercise, you can work out as much as you like (it just doesn’t give you added benefits past a certain point), and the most optimal work out time is 450 min/week. BUT…150 min/week is still really great and perfect if that’s all I can do.
And I think an important thing to note in this is that this includes moderate exercise. This means that house work, yard work, walking, and easy bike rides apply! You have to take into account all the things you do in a day that adds to your activity.
This isn’t more than an hour of marine corps working outs here!
So go for a walk every morning or evening to meditate by yourself or take a loved one out for great conversation. Go bike riding with your kids. Play a soccer game in the front yard with the family. This optimal amount can be reached if you’re creative.
Also, remember that the very best was a mix of both vigorous and moderate exercise. So if you squeezed in some runs or more intensive work outs (maybe your typical work outs you do 2-3 times a week) you should more than reach the best level of exercise.
I think the take away from this is to have fun with it and be creative. I know I wouldn’t keep up working out if it wasn’t fun or de-stressing to me. So chill out on yourself.
Start small if you’re just beginning to exercise and work your way up. You’ll get there in no time.
If you’re already there, good job! Keep up the great work!
Speaking of working out, I’m about to go hit the road for a scenic run.
Best of luck!