You’ve probably heard the American Heart Association’s recommendations countless times: Maintain a moderate intensity for 30 minutes, 5 days per week. For years, this has been the standard amount of exercise promised to help keep your heart healthy and your weight down. And at first, 30 minutes every day of the week may sound easy to pull off, even a little laughable. In reality, when you find yourself trying to find those 30 minutes between work, your family and whatever else your daily life throws at you, it can quickly become daunting to stick to that schedule.
Fortunately, a new study has produced some encouraging findings regarding how much exercise you really need. More interestingly, the study provides some insight on how you can better fit it into a schedule.
What They Found
The study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, was designed to determine whether or not the frequency of your workouts has a bearing on the benefits. Remember that the AHA recommends a total of 150 minutes of exercise per week, so the question at the heart of this study was: Does it really matter if those 150 minutes are broken up in to 5 bouts of 30 minutes?
To answer the question, the researchers monitored the physical activity of 2,324 adults over the course of one week and then calculated their risk of developing certain health condition associated with inactivity. The umbrella term for the condition they were testing for is metabolic syndrome, which includes everything from increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat and high cholesterol.
At the end of the study the findings clearly showed that it didn’t matter how those 150 minutes were accumulated through out the week. For example, if someone was unable to workout at all on Monday through Friday but crammed their 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, on the weekend, they could except the same benefits as if they had followed the AHA recommendations to the letter.
Why It Matters
These findings open up a large amount of freedom for you in designing your workout schedule. You’re goal should be simply to be able to plug in at least 150 minutes each week, regardless of how that time is spread out over the days.
You should also be able to give yourself more flexibility with this in mind. Things come up during the week and your plans change. An emergency may throw off your schedule to workout on a planned day. But, in light of this study, you can make up for that lost time later in the week just by tacking those 30 minutes onto another day.
A Few Considerations
Remember, though, that these recommendations are the minimum needed to prevent metabolic syndrome. These 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise won’t necessarily help you reach your goals if you’re working towards building endurance or muscle strength but the principle is the same.
Although you can change your workout time to match your goals, it’s now evident that you can be adaptable and spread it out through the week in the way that is most convenient for you.
How have you met the challenge of fitting your workouts into your schedule? Please share your thoughts in the comments.