How much should you exercise?

Recent exercise findings have confused some people on whether they need to work out harder for a shorter amount of time or moderately for a longer period of time.
  • Exercise studies in March have conflicting results: 20 minutes versus one hour
  • Experts say the most important message is to be active regardless of latest studies
  • Average person should look to public health guidelines from HHS

(CNN) — The headlines sounded promising — 20 minutes of interval exercise can provide the same benefits as many hours of conventional workouts. But soon after came another study, this one suggesting that women should work out an hour every day just to maintain their weight.

“It does get confusing,” Janice Bissex, mother of two and regular exerciser, said after the studies were released in the past two weeks.

The contradictory information can be disconcerting, said Stephen Ball, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. “It makes it look bad — like physical activity scientists, we’re changing what we’re saying all the time. We’re really not.”

Exercise experts say the most important message is to be active, regardless of the latest studies. How much one should exercise depends on personal fitness goals, they said.

But experts recommend that an average person stick to existing public health guidelines, which recommend that children and teenagers exercise one hour every day and adults get a weekly minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking, dancing, gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity (jogging, aerobic dancing and jumping rope).

The key to exercise is that “some is better than none. More is better than some. Too much is difficult to get,” Ball said.


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