Are you exercising too much or too often?

July 30, 2013
Volume 10    |   Issue 31

Canadian researchers have good news for weekend exercisers who have no time to work out during the week. You get as much benefit from exercising one or two days a week for 150 minutes as you do exercising for half an hour every day. It turns out, the total amount of exercise you get is more important than how frequently you exercise.

Researchers from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada conducted the research, which they published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. The researchers, Ian Janssen and Janine Clarke, looked at 2,325 adults to see if the frequency of exercise had any impact on the subjects' risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

It turns out, it didn't. As long as the participants accumulated 150 minutes throughout the week, it didn't matter how frequent it was. They could do a little bit every day. Or they could knock it out all in one marathon gym session - or gardening session.

To determine their activity levels, all the participants wore accelerometers throughout the week that constantly measured their physical activities. Based on the data provided by the devices, the researchers divided the participants who got in at least 150 minutes into two groups - the high frequency group who exercised at least five days a week, and the low frequency group, who exercised one to four days. They found no difference in the healthiness of the two groups. This indicated that the amount of exercise is more important than the frequency.

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Dr. Janssen said, "The important message is that adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity in whatever pattern that works for your schedule."

Of course, even finding 150 minutes can be a challenge for many people. But there's good news. If you increase the intensity of your exercise, you can reduce high blood pressure and glucose levels with just four minutes of intense physical activity three times a week! That's enough to raise your oxygen intake and increase your benefits.

Norwegian researchers claiming that 12 minutes a week of high-intensity exercise is all you need to improve health say, "Regular exercise training improves maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max), but the optimal intensity and volume necessary to obtain maximal benefit remain to be defined. A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low volume, but high intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits."

And if you can come up with 30 minutes to exercise, a team at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark believes that this can be just as good as 60 minutes for weight loss. In fact, you may even lose more if you exercise less. In their study, the men who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 3.6 kilos in three months, but those who exercised for 60 minutes lost only 2.7 kg. Both groups lost about 4 kg of body mass.

So don't stress if you can't work out every day or if you can't work out for a long time. Instead, focus on getting an appropriate total amount of exercise accumulated throughout the week. If you're not sure whether or not your exercise routine is long enough or intense enough to protect your health, you can increase your oxygen intake with a nitric oxide supplement like CircO2.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


"Is the frequency of weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity associated with the metabolic syndrome in Canadian adults?" Janine Clarke and Ian Janssen, Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 10.1139/apnm-2013-0049.

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