The current rule of thumb is that people should include at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise in their weekly routine to stay fit and healthy.
Two studies recently explored that rule by asking whether 150 minutes amounted to a recommended minimum dose of exercise, and whether too much exercise has any downsides.
The studies, one in the U.S. and one in Australia, were detailed in a New York Times article titled “The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life.” In summary:
▪ The U.S. study looked at exercise habits and death records for a group of more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-age.
Those who didn’t exercise at all had the highest risk of dying early. No surprise there.
Those who exercised somewhat, but not 150 minutes a week, still lowered their risk of early death by 20 percent. And those who met the 150-minute target reduced their risk of death even more, 31 percent less than those who sat on the couch.
The best results came to those who exercised a lot, 450 minutes a week — or just over an hour a day. They were 39 percent less likely to die early than non-exercisers.
▪ The Australia study looked at exercise time and intensity, as well as death statistics, for 200,000 adults.
Once again, people whose exercise was moderate had a lower risk of early death than non-exercisers, and people who had some or a lot of vigorous exercise had moderately better risks of not dying early.
The article cites researchers’ conclusion: Shoot for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, and try to make at least part of that vigorous activity. If you exercise a whole lot more, you won’t become Methuselah, but it shouldn’t do you any harm, either.