Being Bruce -: How Much Exercise Is Enough?

Monday, September 5, 2011

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

People often ask, "How much exercise is enough?"

If there is one answer that fits most occasions when the question is asked, it's probably this: "More than you're doing now."

Are there people who exercise 'enough'?  Most certainly yes, but they wouldn't ask the question that way. They might ask how  they can get more from their exercise time or programs but the word 'enough' as used in the opening question implies that exercise is something unpleasant that the asker wants to minimize. That's akin to someone asking, "How long to I have to eat vegetables and skip what I really like in order to get to a healthy weight?" Sometimes folks who ask these questions keep asking till they get an answer they like, whether it's valid or not."

Another question, "How much exercise is too much?"  might reveal another concern. It certainly is possible to overdo exercise, possibly at the cost of or to avoid other elements of one's life. Exercise can also be addicting, so there's a concern there as well, best measured I'd say by if exercise interferes with other elements of a healthy, happy, relatively balanced life. You run all the usual addiction tests to discover for yourself if you might be addicted to exercise, such as do you keep exercise sessions a secret from family or friends who are concerned, have you lied about exercise, have you actually tried to cut back and failed?

If someone inquires about "too much" exercise chances are others have suggested it may be an issue. As with the folks seeking just the opposite, people who exercise in excess will also keep asking till they get the answer they want and are then outfitted with justification from someone who may or may not know what they're talking about.

I have a sense of how much exercise is right for me. And it varies at times. Right now I'd say that, in addiction to living a moderately active life, about 90 to 120 minutes a day of exercise is about right for me. Now, of course, that's not all on a treadmill or spinning, or even in Zumba classes (now there's one I'd totally dig as a universal only-do-this exercise, but of course there's no such thing). But that's what's right for me now.

Perhaps in another 10 years the amount will change, possibly it will lessen, but more likely it will go up by another 30 minutes a day. Sounds like a lot, right? Of course it is, actually, but the reality is that as one hits middle age, and beyond, it takes more time and more work to get in shape and stay in shape.

You may not like the prospect of long workouts every day, and not everyone may need as much as I currently think and feel is right for me. However, faced with a choice of living a longer, healthier, happier, more vital life versus giving in to gradual declines in strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular conditioning, why not chose health?

There are lots of articles about how 15 minutes of daily cardio can vastly improve conditioning and that's true, for folks who are mostly sedentary. But then once that 15 minutes gets easy, it's time to add on some minutes and look for some strength building, flexibility work, and stretching as well.

We're used to food groups and pyramids and pie charts (tell me why a country struggling with obesity and diabetes type II uses a 'pie' chart for the new food group graphic, please?); perhaps we should develop and exercise graphic as well.(In fact, that sounds like a task for someone I know.)

For now, however, think about the question you'd most likely ask:
  • "How much exercise is enough?"
  • "How can I  get the most out of my exercise time?"
  • "How much exercise is too much?"
What does that tell you about you?

I'd love to hear what you think is your optimal daily exercise allotment, and why.

*************  Ad ***************
And, if you're looking for a new workout, don't forget that P90X2 is coming out this fall (remember I have a vested interest in this since I sell it on my Beachbody site). Right now P90X2 is available only for pre-order in limited quantities.

If you pre-order P90X2 now  here are the advantages:
  • Free shipping (saves you about $40)
  • Two additional workouts included
  • Shipment before December 25 (once the pre-order inventory is gone, most people won't be able to buy P90X2 until 2012).
And here's where to order it: