How much exercise do you need to be physically fit?
Let’s start at the very beginning. What exactly is exercise? Exercise is when you move with at least moderate intensity or when your heart beats at least slightly faster than normal and you’re sweating lightly. Grocery shopping is not exercise, weeding your garden is.
There are three different levels of exercise for adults.
- Movement level: This is the absolute minimum for physical health. You need to move at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes every day. It can be spread out throughout the day, with a minimum of 10 minutes in a row.
- Steps level : An adult needs to take 10.000 steps a day to stay healthy. On average people take about 6000 steps a day, so you’d need to add 4000 extra. Keep in mind that people in office jobs who don’t regularly exercise, move a lot less than 6000 steps per day. On a normal day of work and evening class I only do about 4000.
- Fitness level: This level will improve your physical fitness. Move at high intensity for at least 30 minutes in a row, three times a week.
The best way to ensure optimal health is to do a combination of 10.000 steps a day and 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise three times a week.
If you don’t have a step tracker, move at a moderate pace 30 minutes every day (can be 3 x 10 minutes) combined with 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise three times a week.
I used to think that going to the gym two to three times a week kept me healthy, until I learned about physical fitness in class. I realised that I spent most of my day sitting on my ass (car, work, class, …) and two to three bouts of exercise a week wouldn’t make up for it.
So I got myself a fitness tracker and started trying to move more daily. It’s not easy, and during the week I mostly don’t hit 10.000 (unless I go to the gym). But at least I’m moving more and moving towards better health!
Tips for extra steps on a work day:
- Park your car further from work / home
- Always take the stairs
- Walk back and forth while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew / hot water to boil
- Set a reminder every two hours for a walk (go talk to a colleague, get a drink, …)
- Go for a walk on your lunch break, even five minutes makes a difference
- Choose a more active evening activity than watching TV for 3 hours straight
For those who’ve had the Olivia Netwton John song in their head since reading the title, here’s the gem of a video 🙂