Regular exercise is really important for both physical and mental health. It helps to make your heart stronger, manage your weight, and lower your risk of getting sick. But, there’s still some debate about how much exercise is enough. To answer this question, it’s important to look at the most recent evidence.
The World Health Organisation suggests that adults should do a certain amount of physical activity to reduce their risk of getting sick and dying early. Many countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, agree with this advice and have included it in their health promotion messages. In fact, the exercise recommendations for these countries are pretty much the same. This shows that they all think exercise is really important for staying healthy.
Government and WHO physical activity guidelines:
- Be active every day
- Accumulate 75 mins of vigorous activity OR 150 mins of moderate activity per week
- Incorporate two resistance training sessions per week
- US and AUS further recommend to aim for 150/300 mins per week
But, is it really enough?
The current guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week. However, some experts suggest that this may not be enough to maximize health benefits. In recent years, several studies have looked at the effects of different exercise volumes on health outcomes.
A 2020 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at the relationship between exercise volume and mortality risk. The study followed over 400,000 participants for an average of 10 years and found that those who exercised for 450 minutes or more per week had the lowest mortality risk. However, even those who exercised for as little as 1-74 minutes per week had a lower mortality risk than those who did not exercise at all.
Another study published in The Lancet in 2021 found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with a lower risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. The study found that people who did at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week had a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 33% lower risk of cancer, and a 28% lower risk of diabetes than those who did not exercise.
These studies suggest that while the current exercise guidelines are a good starting point, there may be additional health benefits to be gained from increasing exercise volume. However, it is important to note that everyone’s exercise needs are different, and it is essential to consult a physiotherapist or other healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program.
Proven benefits of increased physical activity:
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Stronger bones
- Reduced risk of some cancers
- Alleviate depression
- Weight management
Take home message
Even a small amount of physical activity is better than none. For example, a 2018 study published in the Lancet found that any amount of physical activity, no matter how small, was associated with a lower risk of mortality. The study included data from over 400,000 people in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and found that the risk of death decreased by 28% for every 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
You don’t need to be in the gym for hours every night to rack up the physical activity minutes. Anything which gets your heart rate up, makes you breathe a little heavier and get a light sweat is valuable.
So make sure you count the time spent mowing the lawn, walking to work, cleaning the house etc.
Where to start?
Physiotherapists play a crucial role in helping individuals achieve optimal physical health through exercise prescription and rehabilitation. They can provide tailored exercise programs based on an individual’s specific needs and health goals, taking into consideration factors such as age, injury, and health status. Our physio-led exercise classes and clinical pilates programs are a great way to exercise safely and build up your strength.
If you would like help to increase the amount, the intensity or the quality of your current exercise routine please get in touch with our physiotherapists. We are qualified to provide advice, prescribe an exercise programme and address any physical issues that might prevent you being as active as you would like.
Call (08) 9384 1555 or click here to book an initial assessment online today.