What’s the right amount of exercise?

What’s the right amount of exercise to get fit and healthy?

First things first, no matter which type of activity you decide to embark on, you must make sure either you know what you’re doing or the person teaching you knows what they’re doing because you don’t want to injure yourself in the process.

If you’re attending an exercise class or a gym, make sure the person teaching you is qualified to do so. If you’re exercising at home or outdoors alone, check with your doctor before you begin and build up your fitness gradually. If you have any injury or illness it’s vital that you see your doctor before you begin any kind of exercise routine. Your doctor will help you to understand what your limitations are. Then armed with this information, you can decide on an appropriate activity.

Strenuous, moderate or mild?

The intensity at which you workout can be described as strenuous, moderate or mild. What constitutes a strenuous, moderate or mild exercise workload for you will depend on your current fitness.

Experts recommend that for purposes of general health, mild to moderate levels of physical activity are all that’s required.

For many of us, this means brisk or purposeful walking or the equivalent level of effort in another activity. Again, what brisk means will depend on your current state of health or fitness. It’s a pace at which you feel you’re making good progress while still being able to hold a conversation.

As a rule of thumb, exercise of moderate intensity will make you a little warm or sweaty, and slightly out of breath, but no more than that.

Recommended activity levels

According to the government, only 37 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women take enough exercise to get any benefit from it. To avoid obesity, heart disease and other life-limiting conditions, the chief medical officer (the government’s top doctor) recommends the following:

Adults should do a minimum of 30 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity, five days a week.

You don’t have to do the whole 30 minutes in one go. Your half-hour could be made up of three ten-minute bursts of activity spread through the day, if you prefer.

The activity can be a ‘lifestyle activity’ (in other words, walking to the shops or taking the dog out) or structured exercise or sport, or a combination of these. But it does need to be of at least moderate intensity.

People who are at specific risk from obesity, or who need to manage their weight because of a medical condition, need 45-60 minutes of exercise at least five times a week.

For bone health, activities that produce high physical stresses on the bones are necessary.