As school and community events move to warp speed during the holiday season, it can feel like there’s never time to exercise. Between work and general adult responsibilities, trying to make it to the gym every day can be discouraging. But it may take less time exercising than you think to make an impact on your health. It doesn’t take training like a bodybuilder or a marathon runner. In fact, one research study recently found that people participating in leisure activities between 2.6-4.5 hours have an extremely low risk for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
In other words, investigators discovered an exercise sweet-spot for impacting your health. Doctors often recommend about 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, and this is still an excellent recommendation. But too often, this recommendation is taken as a daily exercise suggestion only. Instead, this study discusses thinking about weekly exercise as cumulative time over a week. Trying to get in a few hours in a week may help you think more flexibly about your exercise goals. How could you rethink your schedule? Getting in the 2.6-4.5 hours mark during your week is an excellent place to start. So, what could leisure activities look like? Here are some options for expanding your weekly exercise as mentioned in the study (many of these activities are also great ways to spend time socially with people in your community):
Now, count up the movement in your week. Need to move more? Scaling up could be as simple as enjoying a long walk after dinner with your family, signing up for an hour-long tennis or pickleball lesson, and then adding 30 minutes of weights once a week. A routine like that would be fun AND would hit the exercise sweet spot. Don’t let intense exercise regimens or hardcore training rules keep you from exercising. Find a way to move that you love, and meet your health goals. Getting a good amount of exercise to impact your health weekly just may not be as hard as you think!