How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?


Does working out longer and more often mean you'll have a lower body fat percentage? A new study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health says that might be the case for young women.

Researchers compared the physical activity levels of 343 women, aged 17 to 25 years, with their body fat percentages. Those who accumulated 30 minutes or more a week of vigorous physical activity had significantly lower body fat percentages than women who accumulated less per week.

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Those who accumulated 30 minutes or more a day of vigorous physical activity had significantly lower body fat percentages than women who accumulated less per day. And those who accumulated 90 minutes or more a day of vigorous physical activity had the lowest body fat percentages.

Is this always going to hold true? Well, of course not. It's very possible to be an active person of a larger stature and be what one 2014 study deemed "metabolically fit." Scientists discovered that, if aside from their weight, a person has positive indicators of health including no suffering from insulin resistance, diabetes, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure, they have no higher death risk than metabolically healthy normal weight participants.

So how much exercise should the average woman get? According to Dr. Jordan Metzl, author of Dr. Jordan Metzl's Running Strong and sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery, it's not an obscene amount.

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“In general, the medical benefits of exercise, including lower blood pressure, lessened index of depression, and overall improved quality of life, kick in when someone exercises with moderate intensity for 30 minutes per day (150 minutes per week)," says Dr. Metzl. "Although there is a push towards equating a skinny appearance with improved health, the true benefits of exercise are found with movement, not body phenotype. I’d rather someone be mild to moderately overweight and active than thin and inactive, it’s a much healthier way to live and the science backs it up.”

If you're trying to ensure those 150 minutes, the biggest trick is don't make things complicated. Instead of trekking to the gym, get in some exercise in the comfort of your own home doing this bodyweight workout. Or, if being more scheduled helps (science backs the notion that mixing up your workout routine has major benefits) then sign up for classes in advance. This way, you'll have something to look forward to, and a reason to stick to the plan—especially if you're paying in advance.

From Rodale Wellness 
Photo By Getty

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