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Exercise: Not How Much, But How Often

Exercise: Not How Much, But How Often
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A new study sheds light on whether you should exercise a little bit every day or for longer periods less often.

The study found that just a little bit of daily activity could be the most beneficial approach for building muscle strength. Three groups of people were analyzed in the study. One group performed 30 bicep contractions on a machine in one day; another group performed 6 bicep contractions 5 days a week; the last group did 6 contractions once a week. The groups exercising once a week did not show any increase in muscle strength; the 6×5 group showed an increase in muscle strength of 10 percent.

The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a week—or 30 minutes a day for five days. Most people think they need to carve out a 30 minute block for this activity, which can be daunting for those with busy schedules. But recent research has shown that even brief trips up and down stairs, for example, can count toward exercise minutes for the week and deliver health benefits like reduced risk for chronic disease and death.

Note, though, that the more you can get moving, the better. Those who got less than 20 minutes of physical activity had the highest risk of death; those who got 60 minutes of exercise per day cut their risk of death by 57 percent; 100 minutes of exercise per day cut risk of death by a whopping 76 percent.

The point is that it doesn’t need to be daunting to get the health benefits of exercise—and the more, the better!

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