Recommended Exercise for Longevity and Health
A new Canadian study has found that adults who accumulated 150 minutes of recommended exercise on a few days of the week were not any less healthy than adults who exercised more frequently throughout the week. Many individuals still wonder what the best recommended exercise is and how long they should be active each day. Is more better?
The study was conducted by Ian Janssen of Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada and it involved 2,324 Canadian adults aged 18–64 years to determine how the frequency of physical activity throughout the week is linked with the risk of Metabolic Syndrome (MS) in physically active adults. MS is a known risk factor for heart disease and diabetes and includes a cluster of conditions including having a large waistline, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The researchers noted that current guidelines recommend accumulating more than 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity but there is no recommendation as to the frequency.
In the study, 48.4% of the study participants were male and all participants were provided with accelerometers and were asked to wear them on a belt around their waists for a period of 1 week. Then they were asked to mail the accelerometers back to the researchers after the 7-day collection period. Accelerometers were used in the study because they provided an objective and unbiased measure of the study subjects’ physical activity.
Physical activity of the study participants was measured continuously throughout the seven-day study period via the accelerometers. Accelerometers are tiny electrical devices (about the size of a small package of matches) that record how much a person moves every minute and are used to measure the intensity of a person’s activity throughout the day.
Dr. Janssen separated out the physically active participants from the physically inactive participants; those who met the physical activity guidelines (more than 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity) were assigned to work out at moderate-to-vigorous level for 30 or more minutes either five or more days a week or for one to four days a week.
One major limitation of the new study was the short 7-day duration when the physical activity of the study participants were measured.
The Canadian researchers found that those participants who met the definition for being “inactive” were found to be more than four times likely to have MS. Also within physically active participants, the relative odds of the MS was found to be 1.73 times higher in the infrequently active group than the frequently active group. Lastly, the frequency of physical activity throughout the week was found not to be independently associated with the MS among active adults. The study’s conclusion was that accumulating at least 150 min of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week was associated with a reduced risk for MS.
According to Dr. Janssen, a co-author of the study, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the SAME health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states that most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking and that additional benefits occur with more physical activity.
Unfortunately not everyone is able to meet the 2 ½ hours of Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity. As a matter of fact, only 48% of American adults 18 years of age or over surveyed by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) in 2011 is able to do so.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes recommended exercise to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. The response of exercise affects more than just fitness. The body is a unit, made up of many systems, as illustrated by the NEM, neuroendocrine metabolic stress response. Six systems make up the NEM Stress Response, and they affect the entire body. Exercise plays a role in these because exercise increases the metabolism, which speeds up detoxification, and increases hormones and neurotransmitters to affect mood and attitude, as well as benefitting your health and wellness as discussed in the article.
Source: Journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 2013
Hi Dr. Lam,
I am a pediatrician in Pennsylvania. I was recently diagnosed with adrenal fatigue by a functional medicine doctor near me. I read your book Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and, as a physician, it was a breath of fresh air to review the fundamentals of how the human body works. Your approach seems gentle and cautious, which is how I would like to approach things. I am hoping that I would be able to consult with you to gain a greater understanding of this condition as well as learn a holistic approach to heal my body. Thank you
Dr. Angela Geiger