How much exercise do we really need?

iStock_000008573421MediumAnyone who has trained with me and who knows Inner Warrior Fitness will tell you every session is tough, be it one – on – one, bootcamps or our indoor high intensity sessions, every 1 hour session is challenging and pushes you to the maximum limit.

So when I get new clients and introduce them to the IWF way of training it almost instantaneously gets them asking themselves, what’s wrong with me? And what have I been doing wrong for so long? Now I’m not saying my way of training is the gospel, but the reality is most people only do enough exercise to ensure general health, say around 30 minutes, but that’s only half as much as most of us need to avoid becoming overweight or obese.

That’s the growing consensus as the developed world’s obesity problem continues to spiral out of control and peoples activity levels fail to keep up with their food intake. Unless we make big changes to what we eat, it is now recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council that we double the national guidelines recommendation to 60 minutes to help fight our Nations increasing weight problem.

It’s not a bad idea when you think about it. In the current environment of abundant availability, promotion and consumption of energy dense food, encouraging individuals to participate in 45 – 60 minutes of moderate intensity daily physical activity is a great idea. Performing physical fitness training for this time or even adding lesser amounts of vigorous activity is a great way to increase energy levels, develop overall fitness, tone and strengthen the body, prevent weight regain in the majority of people and decrease the chances of obesity.

Now I get it, life happens and I’m not going to tell everyone that they must find 1 hour in the day to exercise because the reality is many people struggle to find half that. The simple fact is we as a population have a huge problem with what the nutritional world calls energy balance. Simply put, we are eating too much poor quality, energy dense food for the amount of daily exercise we do. If finding the extra time in your day is tough and just not possible then it’s important to eat less food and of better quality. On the other hand keep in mind that recommended amounts of daily exercise do not need to be done all at once, try to accumulate 60 minutes throughout the day, try 20 minutes of physical fitness in the morning after breakfast, after lunch and before dinner.

Stepping up daily activity – even in small amounts is the best way to ensure optimal health and well being, but for the benefits listed above try to plan out your sessions and build on increasing your workout time over time.

How to build exercise in to your day

  • Make incidental exercise your priority: take the stairs always when shopping, park the car an extra block away from your destination or get off one stop earlier and walk to work, go for a walk on your lunch break, during add breaks on television get your partner up off the lounge and do as many push-ups, squats, lunges, sit-ups as you can do then in the next break try and beat that or perform a new exercise. There are heaps of ways you can add exercise in to your day – so get creative.
  • Choose high intensity workouts if time poor: A 20 minute high intensity cardio session will get the lungs screaming and they can be just as good as a 60 minute moderate intensity workout. Try choosing a workout from the IWF website, they involve no equipment and will get you working hard. Again, perform the workout with your partner and push each other to the max.
  •  Wear a pedometer: Used by some of my clients who are keen to up their activity levels on a daily basis as they can see how many steps they have taken and then aim to reach a certain goal. What should that goal be? Along with a healthy eating plan, to lose weight you need to walk at least 14,000 steps a day. To maintain weight, you need to walk 10,000 steps a day. A pedometer is also a great way to encourage you to look for ways to reach your goal and you can see how easy it is to accumulate steps with some pretty simple lifestyle changes.

Remember if you don’t have time to exercise for time on end throughout the day, accumulate time every day, perhaps a walk or jog in the morning, some bodyweight training after lunch when energy levels are high and then a brisk walk of an evening.

Simply building in ways to add extra steps to your day can have a big impact on how much exercise you accumulate. It’s as easy as walking the kids to school or taking time out for some family activities on the weekend or taking the dog for a walk daily.

I know that putting a number on how much exercise someone should be getting can be off-putting and overwhelming. With some individuals even the thought of exercise can be overwhelming even daunting to some. Instead try to appreciate your body and understand how important it is to be active in everyday life. Remember, whilst exercise and regular activity will keep your metabolism ticking over, if you want to make real changes to your physique, it all comes down to what you eat. In fact, it’s estimated that at least 80% of fat loss comes from nutritional change.

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