Q: How much do I need to exercise to see benefits?

A: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get an accumulated 30 to 45 minutes or more of simple physical activity (for example, walking the dog, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, etc.) most, if not all days of the week. For fitness benefits, according to the ACSM, adults should do 20 to 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity, three to five days a week at 60 percent to 90 percent of their maximum heart rate using the major muscle groups (swimming and cycling are good ways to accomplish this).

A quick way to estimate your maximum heart rate:
– Subtract your age from 220.
– Multiply this number by 0.6 to find the lower heart rate number that you want to reach and maintain while exercising.
(Example: A 40-year-old would subtract 40 from 220 and get 180. Then multiply 180 by 0.6 to get 108. Our 40-year-old would then try to keep his or her heart rate at around 108 beats per minute while exercising.)

Note: For most people, exercising longer at a heart rate of 60 to 70 percent of maximum is preferred over exercising for shorter durations at higher heart rates.

Reference: Aetna Smart Source with medical information reviewed by faculty of Harvard Medical School

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