Hitting (and falling off!) the treadmill à la Taylor Swift is the surest way to feel great about yourself — both mentally and physically. We’ve been told for years by government and health organizations that 150 minutes a week is the ultimate gym-going goal, leaving many of us constantly searching for workout motivation to get in our hours. But what if you needed to spend way less time in spin class to reap major health benefits? A recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that the widely suggested amount of exercise overreaches what most people actually need to stay healthy.
The study found that just half of the globally recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a week is enough for many to see improvement in their overall health. Also, they found people still benefited from a lower level of activity, meaning that it’s not always necessary to go super hard during workouts. Study co-authors Darren E.R. Warburton, PhD, and Shannon S. Bredin, PhD, MSc, of the University of British Columbia said in a news release that “There is compelling evidence that health benefits can be accrued at a lower volume and/or intensity of physical activity.”
Both doctors agree that the 150 minute threshold became the gospel of the international health and wellness communities because of a simple misinterpretation of the language used in the original findings. They believe that the word “should” somehow morphed into the word “must,” thus skewing the recommended weekly exercise hours.
The strong wording of the classic recommendation can make many gym-goers feel inadequate in their own fitness schedules, causing them to give up when they don’t measure up. The authors warn against that common roadblock, saying, “‘Move more and sit less’ is more understandable by contemporary society and based on a strong body of evidence.” Simply put, fitting in what exercise you can and avoiding long periods of sitting or standing is enough.
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