Did you know that experts no longer believe that exercise needs to be in bouts that are longer than 10 minutes to gain health benefits? Well it’s true. Here’s what the experts now recommend.
For the first time since 2008, new U.S. federal guidelines for physical activity have been released. And both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Center For Disease Control agree.
The new guidelines recommend that most adults engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity that elevates the heart rate each week. That’s about 30 minutes, 5 days a week. The good news is that any activity during your day counts toward the total, and just 22 minutes a day can offer dramatic health improvements. If you are wondering what I mean by elevating the heart rate, think about exercising at a moderate level. You don’t have to be gasping for breath, but it should require some effort!
They also recommend doing twice weekly muscle strengthening. Cardio will prevent you from being winded after a flight of stairs, while strength training will build muscle and bone, which protects against injury.
What Counts As Moderate-Intensity?
Everything you think of as exercise- plus lots of stuff you don’t, including housework, risk walking, playing with the dog or kids, walking the dog, carrying heavy loads, gardening and yard work.
Just be sure to do at least 10 minutes at a time, and then break it up however you want.
The reasons to add physical activity to your routine extend beyond weight loss and general fitness. Focusing on the immediate benefits may motivate people to move more and sit less.
Here are seven benefits beyond weight loss to help motivate you to add physical activity to your daily routine.
1. Build Lean Body Mass
Exercise, such as strength and resistance training, helps build and maintain lean body mass. When you lose weight, some of that weight loss may include a loss of muscle and bone density. Research shows that approximately 25 percent of lost weight comes from lean body tissues. And don’t forget, intake of proper macronutrients — in particular, an adequate amount of high-quality protein — is key to maintaining and building muscle while losing weight.
2. Improve Metabolism
A faster metabolism, measured by resting metabolic rate (RMR), allows the body to burn more calories while at rest. Exercise is associated with increased energy expenditure, promoting an increase in RMR . Since fat-free mass, such as muscle and organ tissue, is more metabolically active than fat mass, any increase in muscle mass may support improvements to your metabolism. When people talk about gaining weight as they age “because there metabolism has slowed down”, the exact opposite is true. They are usually gaining weight because they have become less active and lost muscle mass.
3. Relieve Stress
People consistently feel less stressed and more energized after exercise. Several research papers link exercise and physical activity to a decrease in stress and an improved sense of well-being. The American Psychological Association reports that 64 percent of adults who say they have low stress engage in exercise at least once per week, while those who don’t exercise report high stress levels much more frequently. The release of endorphins we get from exercise is mood boosting, which also helps to combat depression.
4. Develop a Healthier Gut
Although understudied until recently, the effects of exercise on the gut microbiome are emerging. Because the gut microbiome is largely affected by dietary habits and is unique to each individual, it can be difficult to make conclusions based on exercise alone. However, in one study, researchers found that athletes generally have a greater diversity of gut microbes. Microbe diversity has been linked to positive benefits to immune and digestive health, intestinal barrier function, energy balance, and metabolism . Learn more about gut health HERE.
5. Improve Sleep
Sleep has been shown to respond positively to physical activity. Research indicates that both sleep quality and sleep duration are improved with regular exercise. In studies of adolescents and adults, those with sleep problems greatly benefited from aerobic and resistance exercise. Even those who regularly suffer from insomnia have reported increased sleep duration by an hour and 15 minutes each night following an exercise program of 30 minutes four days per week.
6. Boost Memory and Focus
Exercise has been shown to increase memory and cognition both directly and indirectly. Not only does it stimulate the release of growth factors that encourage the growth and survival of new blood vessels in the brain, it also improves mood and sleep and reduces anxiety and stress, all of which lead to improved memory and cognition. This is a huge benefit to keep in mind as we age!
7. Bolster Immune Health
Regular moderate exercise has a protective effect on the immune system and improves the body’s response to pathogens. This reaction is thought to be mediated by a reduction in visceral fat mass and the anti-inflammatory effect that occurs with each bout of exercise .
All these health benefits are achievable with regular physical activity — and again, everything counts! Even just 22 minutes a day is sufficient, whether it’s resistance or aerobic exercise. The most important factor is consistency. Finding ways to incorporate a little extra activity into your day can have a dramatic effect on your overall health and well-being that is just so worth it!
Would you like more tips and inspiration to stay fit & healthy? Come on over and join the fun in my FREE Fit & Fab Over 40 Wellness Group and get the support from me and other like minded women!