Advice for Staying Fit

How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?

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By Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., ATC, AT

Health experts have been pushing almost-daily activity for decades. But a new study suggests you may not need to exercise four to five days each week to reap the rewards.

While it’s true that more exercise is better for your body (without getting into extremes), not everyone can squeeze in 50 minutes of activity five days a week. For those people, this recent study confirms some exercise is better than none.

Squeezing in Fitness

Whether you’re an on-the-go parent or you work 60 hours each week, you can find ways to squeeze exercise into your day. A few ideas:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot.
  • Do strength-training activities in between household chores (do lunges while folding laundry or push-ups while waiting for the coffee to brew).
  • Walk while you field phone calls.
  • Sit on a stability ball instead of a chair.

No matter which activity you choose, make sure you warm up, use proper form and breathe during exercise.

Still can’t manage to work out during the week? Maximize your exercise time during off days. At least one study shows the weekend warrior approach (working out only on weekends) produces plenty of perks, including a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

In fact, researchers found that folks who exercised regularly (defined as working out moderately for at least 150 minutes over the course of a week or vigorously for at least 75 minutes each week over three or more sessions) were only slightly better off than those who worked out two days each week.

Related Topic: Self-Conscious About Exercise? 8 Ways to Get More Comfortable

Exercise as Medicine

Despite these encouraging findings, scientists agree that if you want to prevent disease and sidestep obesity, exercising only twice a week isn’t enough — particularly if you aren’t eating a healthy diet.

Overall, the research is clear: Obesity leads to disease. The best way to keep it at bay is to exercise five or six times each week with an active recovery day.

Visit or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) to schedule an appointment with a doctor or one of our athletic trainers to talk about your fitness goals.

You can also read more nutrition and fitness advice in our EatWell and MoveWell sections, so subscribe to get all the latest tips.

Written By:

Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., ATC, AT

Nick has been part of the Henry Ford team since 2013, and currently works with the student athletes at University of Detroit Jesuit High School, as well as serving in the role of Lead Athletic Trainer with Henry Ford Sports Medicine. He has also provided athletic training services to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Great Lakes Loons, a Class A minor league affiliate of the L.A. Dodgers, as well as other high school teams. Nick was named High School Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2018 by the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training/Sports Medicine from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Auburn University.

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