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How Much Exercise Does It Take to Improve Your Health?

Hint: It's less than you think.

Many people think that exercise is a drag, and don't want to hit the gym to get into the best shape of their lives every year for bikini season. That's understandable.

Taking an hour a day to go to the gym seems like a big ask to fit into a busy schedule, especially when you are already stressed. It is hard to make time for one more thing, even if you know it is what you need to do.

Getting motivated for fitness seems like it is no fun, you aren't a health nut!

Do any of these thoughts sound like you? Then you will be happy to know you don't actually need to hit the gym for an hour a day to start seeing health benefits.

Health benefits of exercise

There are many health benefits to exercise, for both your physical and mental health. Working out is good for improving your health and living a long life.

According to the CDC, benefits of exercise include:

  • Improved brain health

  • Reduced anxiety and depression

  • Weight management

  • Lowered risk of heart disease and stroke

  • Reduced risk for Type II Diabetes

  • Reduced risk for some cancers

  • Strengthens bones and muscles

  • Improve Your Ability to do Daily Activities and Prevent Falls

  • Increase Your Chances of Living Longer

  • Manage Chronic Health Conditions & Disabilities

With all of these benefits for your physical and mental health, it is important for your overall well being to be getting enough exercise every day. This will help you to live a longer and more full life.

How much exercise is enough?

Most of us don't really know the answer to this question, although it is important for our fitness and overall health.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that you,

Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.

That is great news for people who don't have time or motivation to exercise a lot! If you break that down, it means you only need to get 12-22 minutes of exercise per day, depending on how hard you work out.

If you do a fast-paced HIIT workout, then you only need to exercise for 12 minutes. Or, if you want something less fast-paced, you can go for a walk or do 22 minutes of yoga.

According to the BBC,

Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14%, research from Taiwan suggests.

15 minutes of exercise appears to be the minimum per day, but you can be flexible based on your schedule, doing 10 minutes one day, and 20 another day, as long as it averages out throughout the week. That way, you are getting enough exercise to stay healthy.

This is much easier than spending an hour at the gym every day!

Work out where you are

Another problem with exercising is that going to and from the gym takes too much time. By the time you get changed, you are there probably an extra half hour between the drive and time in the locker room.

If this is keeping you from working out, you can exercise at home, work or school so that you don't need to go anywhere.

Walking is one of the greatest exercises for your health, especially if you walk outside. You can do a short walk at your lunch break, or get off a stop earlier from the train or bus home and walk the rest. Or, if you are a bit more motivated, you can walk up and down a flight of stairs several times.

No equipment needed, and nowhere to go!

If you are in the office all day, you can get a yoga ball chair, like the one I have. Then, while you are working, you will be engaging your core muscles. You can also use the ball to do easy exercises at your desk. This can be as simple as bouncing on the ball, to doing different leg lifts. If you do a few reps throughout the day, you are well on your way.

You can still take breaks at work to exercise for 1-2 minutes at a time without a yoga ball. If you want, you can stand up and walk around the hallway, or do some squats, push-ups, sit-ups or jumping jacks.

Another way to work fitness into your day at work is to take "walking meetings" if there are other fitness minded individuals in your workplace. Instead of sitting down to meet, take your meeting on the go!

Also, in this day and age of the internet, there are plenty of easy fitness videos online that you can use at home on a daily basis. Some are as little as 10 minutes!

This 10 minute Pilates video is just one example of a short workout you can do at home.

Hopefully, knowing that you can work out at home, at your office, or on the way to and from for just minutes a day will help give you the motivation to get started.

You don't have to spend hours of your time, sign up for a gym membership, or buy any expensive equipment.

With these easy tips, you can start to get a bunch of benefits for your health right away!

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