Oooooh. Let me tell you what. If you’re sitting in an office surrounded by fitness nuts of all shapes and sizes, never toss this question onto the floor. Ever. Your ears will be ringing for days if you do.
When it comes to fitness and getting that beach body ready to go for a whirl, everybody’s got an opinion. Everyone’s loaded with anecdotal evidence that proves their way is the best way, and if you’re not doing it their way you’re doing it wrong. The question is, how do you sift the fact from the fiction? How do you figure out what your body really needs vs. what everyone around you seems to think?
Here’s the deal. Unless you happen to be a professional athlete, an hour a day is plenty to keep your body fit and your cardiovascular system sound. Most physicians recommend that the average adult get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity each week. If you’re up and moving for an hour a day, you’re actually blasting those physical fitness requirements right out of the water.
That doesn’t mean you should spend the rest of your day sitting on your bottom. Keep in mind that every time you’re up and moving you’re building muscle, burning fat, toning your body, building endurance…well. You get the idea.
What Constitutes “Moderate Aerobic Activity”?
Ah, the five million dollar question. You see, when it comes to exercise it’s not always a question of how much you’re doing so much as what you’re doing.
Moderate aerobic activity includes biking, hiking, jogging, walking briskly, swimming. Anything you’re doing that gets your heart rate lifted, but not to its maximum target. Intense aerobic activity burns more calories, puts more strain on the body and gets the heart pumping.
Your target heart rate is going to vary depending on your age, your weight and your fitness level, so talk to your doctor. From a cardiovascular point of view, however, walking is just as good for you as running. (Straight from the mouth of the PA at my doctor’s office, I swear!) Deciding what activities you should be doing depends more on your long-term goals than what’s needed to stay “fit”.
Losing Weight’s Another Story
Now for the real clincher. Why are you worried about how much exercise you need in a day?
Being fit doesn’t necessarily equate to losing weight. Your weight loss is a delicate balance of calories taken in with calories burned. Certain activities are going to burn more calories on a minute-by-minute basis than others. The difference between walking and sprinting is pretty extreme. Do your homework when you’re planning your workout routine.