It’s well established that regular exercise has a variety of benefits for people, from improved fitness, mobility and weight loss, all the way to behavioural benefits such as improved self esteem and even a reduction of feelings of depression or anxiety.
However what’s not well known is just how much exercise is considered enough. Sometimes it’s very useful to have established guidelines for exercising, because much like ‘crash’ diets, crash exercising can lead to burnout and eventually a regression to not exercising at all.
The NHS (National Health Service) of the United Kingdom recommends that adults (between 19 and 64 years old) should be getting 150 minutes of ‘Moderate Aerobic Activity’, or 75 minutes of ‘Vigorous Aerobic Activity’ a week. Moderate aerobic activity is classified as activities such as brisk walking or normal cycling such as biking to work, whereas vigorous aerobic activity is considered to be running or playing a high intensity sport, such as singles tennis, football or touch rugby.
During moderate activity, people should get warmer and breathe more heavily, however still be able to carry out a conversation. Vigorous activity results in the heart beating much more rapidly and breathing becoming much faster, making it hard to carry out a conversation. The service also suggests that a mixture of the two can be effective.
Obviously, depending on your base fitness level, certain activities which may cause these physical responses in other people may cause a different response in you. That’s why you can classify activity based on your breathing and heart rate, rather than the activity itself (i.e a ‘moderate’ activity to an olympic triathlete will most likely be considered a ‘vigorous’ activity to a normal person, so it’s important to pay attention to your own body’s response).
One of the great benefits of workout equipment such as spin bikes and treadmills, is that they are so flexible and allow you to adjust the intensity of your workout quickly and easily. This makes them great tools for reaching your weekly target of aerobic exercise.
By exercising regularly, with an aim towards achieving the 150 or 75 minute guidelines weekly, people can benefit from improved health, better sleep, a maintenance of a healthy weight, better managed stress and an improved quality of life. The NHS also found statistically significant reductions in common ailments, with a 40% reduction in type II diabetes incidence, 35% reduction of cardiovascular disease incidence, a 30% reduction in falls, depression and dementia, a 25% reduction in joint and back pain, and a 20% reduction in breast and colon cancer incidence.
Another important consideration is that any exercise is better than nothing, and the service actually recommends starting gradually as needed and building from there. Dr Frankie Phillips, a dietician and spokeswoman for The British Dietetic Association, emphasised the importance of raising the weekly level of physical activity amongst people: “For most people even moderate activity isn’t what they are achieving at the moment and that’s crucial.”
One of the great aspects of rental fitness equipment is that it lets you exercise at your own pace, whenever you’d like. Especially if you have a framework or a weekly goal to work towards (such as the 150 or 75 hour guidelines), these can be motivating in themselves and enable you to ‘sneak’ a few minutes in here and there to reach your weekly goals. This is a much more effective approach than just following a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ style approach to how much you should exercise, as this can become overwhelming and ultimately disheartening.
If you stick to the 150 or 75 hour a week approach as a baseline target, you should be able to maintain much more consistent and sustainable exercise habits, and ultimately better health and general wellbeing. We’ve also done a helpful post on understanding the relationship between calories and weight loss, and how you can tip the scales in your favour through exercise.
You can find out more about the National Health Service’s exercise guidelines here.