How much exercise is enough in order to look good, feel good, and be healthy?

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Being physically active is one of the most important actions that people of all ages can take to improve their health. The evidence about the health benefits of regular physical activity is well established and has shown that everyone gains benefits from exercising: men and women of all races and ethnicities, young children to older adults, women who are pregnant or postpartum, people living with a chronic condition or a disability, and people who want to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

First of all, prior to begin any exercise program, every individual needs to seek medical evaluation and clearance to engage in the activity. Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone.

Are you searching for reasons to start or continue exercising?

Let’s talk about the benefits of exercising.

Exercise includes some immediate results such as short-term reduction of feelings of depression and stress, and improvement of sleep, mood, thinking, learning and judgment skills. A good motivation in order to start and continue exercising is to focus on how you feel mentally before and after physical activity. (2)

Most results of exercise are not instantaneous, so set realistic expectations.

Exercise can help improve the strength of bones and muscles, endurance, weight management, physical function, mental health, life expectancy, daily living activities and independence. Exercise can help reduce mortality, and risks of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. It can also help manage chronic health conditions and disabilities by reducing pain, and nerve damage, improving function, mood, and quality of life and helping control blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Physical activity is a powerful ally in the prevention of falls and it can reduce the risk of developing some cancers like bladder, breast, colon (proximal and distal), endometrium, esophagus (adenocarcinoma), kidney, lung, stomach (cardia and non-cardia adenocarcinoma). If somebody is a cancer survivor, getting regular physical activity not only helps give him a better quality of life but also improves his physical fitness. (2)

Having talked about the benefits of exercising, it is time to answer the original question of this blog: How much exercise is enough in order to look good, feel good and be healthy?

According to the latest guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 2018, preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be encouraged to be physically active, which includes a variety of activity types, throughout the day to enhance growth and development. (1)

Children and adolescents should be encouraged and given opportunities to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety. Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily, which includes:

  • Aerobic exercise: Most of the 60 minutes or more per day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity at least 3 days a week.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercise: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity at least 3 days a week. (1)

As for adults, for substantial health benefits, should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. Adults need a mix of physical activities. For this reason, they should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits. (1)

Older adults should follow the same guidelines and also do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle strengthening activities in the safest way as part of their weekly physical activity. When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. (1)

Examples of Aerobic Physical Activities based on their intensity:

Moderate intensity Vigorous intensity
Walking briskly (2.5 miles per hour or faster)
Jogging or running
Recreational swimming
Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour on level terrain
Relaxed Tennis
Vigorous dancing
Relaxed Dancing
Bicycling faster than 10 miles per hour
Active forms of yoga
Jumping rope
General yard work and home repair work
Heavy yard work
Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

A good way to estimate the intensity of aerobic activity is the Talk Test.
A person doing a moderate-intensity aerobic activity can talk, but not sing, during the activity.
A person doing a vigorous-intensity activity cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Answering the question of this blog, it is important to evaluate the priorities, in order to start or continue exercising.

  • Place a high value on your health
  • Plan ahead by marking your workout time on your calendar.
  • Find the joy in a physical activity instead of viewing it as one more thing on the to-do list that will keep you motivated. With so many exercise options, there is some form of activity for everyone.
  • Find opportunities to be active. For instance, if your schedule doesn’t allow for a full workout, figure out ways that you can get shorter bursts of activity. Even short bouts of activity carry many benefits.
  • Avoid long periods of sitting by standing up and moving throughout the day.

In case you are facing any musculoskeletal problems or other health issues, such as chronic cardiovascular and respiratory problems or problems with your blood sugar levels, contact us in order to plan an exercise program together and get the maximum benefits for your health.

Do not forget that staying active pays off!


  1. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, 2018.
  2. Ruegsegger G. N., Booth F. W. Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2017; 8(7):a029694.

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