We’ve all heard that we “should” exercise. Our bodies are made to move and they don’t function well if we don’t get up, walk, stretch, and strengthen on some sort of consistent basis. However, there’s great debate about just what kind of exercise and how much exercise is necessary. In my 30 years as a personal trainer, I’ve seen that one of the main things that keeps people from exercising consistently is having an idea about how much they have to do.
For example, the World Health Organization, American Heart Association, and American College of Sports Medicine all recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 5 days per week. For weight loss, the recommendation goes as high as 60 minutes 5 days per week. This is way more than most people are up for—and it’s highly questionable if these recommendations are sound. (More on truly effective aerobic exercise recommendations in a future article.)
First, it appears that almost any movement at all is significantly better than no movement. As little as 5-15 minutes of daily exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve heart health and immune function, reduce stress, increase self-control, and improve mood and sense of well-being.
And even less than that is beneficial. Just getting up, moving, and stretching once every half-hour has positive health and psychological benefits.
So, if you think of exercise and have feelings of dread and images of the drudgery of long workouts, think “less” instead. Almost any comfortable movement done consistently is light years better than staying stationary. Get up and move in a way that feels good to you—starting with a little at a time—and your body and mind will thank you.