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WHAT EXERCISE INTENSITY + AMOUNT IS BEST?

WHAT EXERCISE INTENSITY + AMOUNT IS BEST?

Are you worried about how much exercise you are doing and whether you are being active enough? The answer is that there is ALWAYS room for improvement and figuring out more ways that you can fit exercise into an increasingly busy life! We need to build our lives around constant activity! (not the other way around – perhaps around jobs and recreation where we may be constantly inactive!).

What Level of Exercise Intensity and Daily Recommended Amount is Best For Your Body?

Dr Greger from Nutrition Facts is trying to set the record straight when it comes to the recommended exercise. It was in this video where he discusses how he recommends ninety minutes of MODERATE intensity exercise or forty minutes of VIGOROUS intensity exercise PER DAY for optimal longevity – now that’s a lot of exercise!

It’s quite a bit to fit in but hopefully, by the time you have finished this post, I will leave you with some great ideas of how to pack more ‘working out’ into your day! Sometimes you might be burning a good amount of calories just by doing normal everyday activities! The trick is to stay active.

NZ Exercise Recommendations:

Now I live in New Zealand so I thought I would quickly discuss the New Zealand recommendations for exercise (bear in mind that the 2017 statistics show that we are now the third most obese nation in the world! In 2013 we were the twelfth most overweight nation) so the recommended activity levels are not really holding any ‘weight’ 😉

Here we go: The New Zealand government recommends that we do two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise spread throughout the week or one and a quarter (quarter – where do they get this research!) of vigorous intensity exercise spread throughout the week as a MINIMUM and to double it to receive extra health benefits (why do they not recommend this in the first place if this is the ‘healthier’ option hmmmm!)

For older adults (I am guessing over fifty) – they recommend thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least five days a week (they mention nothing about vigorous activity but if you continue to do regular vigorous activity when you are young there is no reason why you also can’t continue this as you age!).

Interested to Find Out the Difference Between Moderate and Vigorous Activity?

Moderate intensity exercise causes a slight increase in breath and heart rate and you are still able to chat at the same time! (So you can exercise and be social at the same time!)

Vigorous intensity exercise causes you to be out of breath, get a good sweat on and increases your heart rate plus there will be no hope of holding a conversation! It is the vigorous exercise that is physically demanding to our bodies and muscles and also causes DNA damage to our cells (3).

It is AFTER the work out that the real benefits set in as our antioxidant levels are boosted and our overall DNA damage is much less showing that vigorous exercise really does help to promote longevity!

MODERATE INTENSITY EXERCISE IDEAS:
Yin/Hatha/Restorative yoga are great for a lower intensity workout (People might disagree with me including yoga but it has numerous strength and flexibility benefits which still need further research and study. You can’t just do yoga all week though you gotta mix it up!)
A brisk walk
Water aerobics
Slow cycling
Tennis (doubles match)
Slow/ballroom style Dancing
Light gardening
Stair climbing
Housework (think cleaning or vacuuming)

VIGOROUS INTENSITY EXERCISE IDEAS:
Vinyasa flow/Power yoga/Yoga sculpt/Ashtanga yoga (Yes still including yoga here! I think the people who diss yoga as exercise might have never been to a class – you definitely get a good work out and sweat on!)
Jogging/running
Swimming laps
Fast cycling
Tennis (singles match)
Aerobic dancing (think Tracey Anderson!)
Heavy gardening (digging/moving dirt etc)
Hiking uphill/with a pack
Jump rope
HIIT workouts (High-Intensity Interval Training)

Of course, there are numerous other sporting activities and ways to stay active – get creative and have fun with it!

The Benefits of Exercise to Your Longevity!

If you are extremely busy an easy way to get some vigorous intensity exercise into your day is to include a 10-20 min HIIT work-out. If you are new to vigorous intensity level exercise HIIT is also great for beginners as you only do vigorous activity for a short time which gets your heart rate up and then you take regular breaks within your work out (4). HIIT is great for increasing cardiovascular health, weight loss and maintaining muscle mass as we age.

Surprisingly adding more green coloured food into your day can increase your longevity benefits without having to do as much moderate intensity exercise (2). That’s because greens give our bodies good nutrition, antioxidants and boost longevity. So if you can’t work out as much as you would like to definitely consume more greens!

Not only does staying active every day help to boost immune function it also helps us to get a great night’s sleep, has a preventative effect against cancer, helps with cognitive health and the ageing brain, can aid in reducing high blood pressure and it also helps us to stay mentally healthy (1). Any kind of movement has shown to give our mental health a boost and you get double brownie points if you take it outside! (4).

Increasing exercise can also help people to recover from cancer treatments faster, and can often work just as well as the drugs used in treating heart disease, stroke and diabetes (2). Research also shows that regular walkers who walk around an hour each day live around three-five years longer than there inactive counterparts (2). Walking is a fantastic way to start increasing your activity.

Try and walk more to things near you in your neighbourhood. Plan ahead to allow walking time. When you are parking, park further away to maximise walking time. If you sit most of the day at a desk make sure you go for a walk at lunchtime! Try and fit in some walking into your commute to and from work. Get a good quality walk or hike in on each weekend day. Get a friend to come with you! It is important that we balance the social activities of eating and drinking with also working out and staying active.

Adopt a dog! Exercise scientist Cindy Lentino found that dog owners who walk their dogs regularly have one third the risk of diabetes than there less active counterparts (5). Plus dogs are beneficial to our mental health as we feel less lonely, are more social and spend more time outside when we own a dog.

The research shows that ninety minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise will lead to increased health outcomes (unfortunately there is no research for activity over this amount as so few people actually do it!) (1).  You can cut down on this time a bit by also adding in a bit of vigorous intensity exercise where possible.

So, in conclusion, more is better, the more exercise you can fit into your day, the better off and more healthy you will be! So start switching out your recreational screen time for more activity time where possible!

Links:

1 – Dr Greger on Exercise from Nutrition Facts

2 – Exercise as Medicine from Nutrition Facts

3 – How to Boost the Benefits of Exercise from Nutrition Facts

What is Your Level of Intensity? from Heart
(Moderate vs High-Intensity chart adapted from this site)

4 – Low, Moderate and High-Intensity Exercise from Nine

5 – Are Dog Owners Healthier People? from Active

8 Steps For Staying Active from NZ Ministry of Health
(This is a good read plus it outlines the NZ Exercise recommendations).


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