Exactly How Long Do You Need To Exercise To Get The Benefits?

Have you ever been mid workday and thought to yourself, “I should go to the gym”? And while it seems like a great idea at the time, by the end of the workday, lacing up and heading to the gym is the absolute last thing you want to do. So even though we all know that getting routine exercise—preferably 150 minutes per week—is ideal, motivation can be hard to come by.


And despite all those catchy sayings out there, like, “You have to burn it to earn it. No pain, no gain. Work hard, play hard,” the daily struggles of work, kids, cleaning and more, are real—and tough to overcome. But that’s where the numerous benefits of exercise come in.

So, the next time you’re faced with the workout vs. relax dilemma, keep these quick facts in mind. And remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can get numerous health benefits by working out for just 10 to 30 minutes a day. Okay, okay, it’s more like 45 minutes by the time you shower, but it’s still worth it.

To reduce inflammation and boost immune health: You need at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise, per week. Whether that’s taking the stairs every day, heading out for a walk or mowing the lawn, you can easily get your heart rate up, break a sweat (after 10 minutes) and reap all the anti-inflammatory benefits.

To reduce your risk of type 2 Diabetes: You need at least 30 minutes of high intensity exercise, per week. Whether it’s interval training, or another form of (intense) exercise, it only counts as high intensity if you can’t talk and you reach 80% of your maximum heart rate.

To support heart health: You need at least 90 minutes of moderated exercise, per week. But for heart health in particular, not all exercises are created equal. The best moderate exercises for your heart are total-body workouts because the more muscles that are targeted, the more your heart is challenged (and grows).

To improve your memory: You need at least 120 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, per week. Not only does exercise support the growth of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps with memory, it also helps to reduce stress, which weakens the brain’s ability to retain information. Opt for Pilates or yoga for a stress-relief focus.

To reduce your risk of cancer: You need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, per week, to reduce your risk of cancer. Because exercise helps to regulate sex hormones, insulin and stress hormones, regular activity can reduce your risk of 13 different types of cancer (wow!). Try a walking meeting or a brief walk during your lunch break to get those 30 minutes in 5 days a week.

To improve your overall health & wellbeing. While you already know that exercise is important for living a happy, healthy and long life, it bears repeating. The benefits it offers don’t stop with those listed above. In fact, regular exercise can also help to improve mood, energy, sleep quality, bone health and creativity. Now before you run out to the gym—just to get all of these awesome health benefits—it’s important to note that benefits do take time. For the most part, you can expect a noticeable difference in how you feel after 3 to 5 months. However, if you are new to exercise (or it’s been a while), it may take closer to a full year.

So, make sure that you don’t rush the process and set yourself up for success by working with the health expert that knows you—and your health—best. Your primary care provider will be able to help you safely start a new exercise program, help you avoid injury and ensure you’re eating a diet to support your health and fitness goals.

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