Why half an hour of exercise a day may not be enough and how much you should be doing

How often do you exercise a day?

If it’s the much-touted half an hour, you may be disappointed to learn this may not actually be enough to ward off health issues.

New research suggests 30 minutes of daily exercise is too little to make a difference in people deemed ‘active couch potatoes’, reports Today.

A study in Finland monitored 3,700 volunteers split into three groups.

Group one : People who worked out for half an hour a day, then remained sedentary for the rest of it.

Group two: People who exercised for an hour a day, then remained sedentary for the rest of it.

Group three : People who exercised for half an hour a day, but then remained active for the rest of it.

What were the findings?
Exercise scientist Amelia Phillips – perhaps surprisingly – described those still sedentary for the rest of the day as ‘active couch potatoes’.

“The sedentary behaviour counterbalanced the exercise,” Phillips told Today Extra.

“The people that were lightly active with 30 minutes of exercise had much better body fat percentages, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.”

She said any ‘lightly active behaviours’ done throughout the day made a huge difference to our health, but more intense exercise was also needed.

“It is widely recommended to exercise for 2.5 to five hours a week,” she said.

“The catch is you need to have vigorous activity on top of moderate which is one to two hours a week.”

How can I meet these fitness targets in real life?
It might not be as hard as you think, and just involves a little imagination.

Phillips advises to go for a power walk, before breaking into a jog for 10 to 15 minutes somewhere along the way.

It is widely known that one to two hours of vigorous exercise – where you can’t hold a conversation and your perceived rate of exertion is approaching a ten – is recommended per week, but many of us find this difficult to attain.

We’re either spending office hours sitting at a desk the entire day, or now work from home so miss out on the light exercise from getting to and from the office.

Amelia said simple changes such as using a standing desk, opting to take the stairs or even choosing to have ‘walking meetings’ instead of in a conference room are good ideas to up your quota of light exercise

And for those struggling to get enough vigorous work-outs in, Phillips suggests getting what she dubs a ‘BHAG’.

“A ‘big hairy audacious goal’ – once a year, you’re going to do a BHAG like a 50km trek with friends, or train for a 10km fun run ,” she says.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there!