How much do I need to exercise?

I keep running across short articles on exercise and its resultant health improvements; they vary a lot! One, taken from USA Today and published in the Journal of the American medical Society, reported on a long-term study done by researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. This was a huge project, following 34,000 women for thirteen years. The group's average age was 54 when the project began and the women were eating a regular diet and not trying to lose weight. Over the extended period of the study the average weight gain was six pounds. Not very surprisingly, those who exercised more gained less than those who were relatively inactive. But notice they weren't dieting, just exercising.

A second article included multiple takes on excercise. A cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester mentioned an overweight patient who started to consume a better diet and got moderate exercise. He lost weight and clearly improved his lipid panel results (the surprise ending to that story was he was his own patient in this instance).

Comments made at the yearly meeting of the American College of Cardiology supported the moderate exercise concept, with a number of studies showing more aggressive approach to preventing heart disease were no more effective than moderate ones. Other studies showed that adding multiple drugs to lower lipids didn't seem to offer additional benefit and a large NIH study concluded that aggressively lowering systolic blood pressure (that's the upper number your doc looks at when you have, for example a blood pressure of 145 over 95) wasn't more effective in preventing strokes or heart attacks in a group of over 4,700 diabetic patients.

What does this all translate into for you. At least my approach is to eat well, keep my weight down and get some exercise as often as possible, sometimes by going to the gym and sometimes by walking up and down the stairs to my second-floor office. I've stayed away from using lots of meds for minimal changes in my lipids and don't have a blood panel done very often (The last time I had one, all my results were okay). Of course I've worked hard at losing the roll around my middle (I've gone from a 37-38 inch waist to 33-34 inches in the past year) and cut my weight 25+ pounds. The dose of my blood pressure medicine was cut in half when I did so.

Listen to what your own doc tells you, but I strongly suggest you take some steps yourself to improve your health. They don't always have to be huge ones, but, in the final essence, you're the person who can do the most to extend your lifespan. Start by doing some walking; think about small things you can do arround the house that burn calories (like my extra stair climbing), ask your doc if you're okay to do more strenuous exercise and if you do so, very gradually increases in your workout pattern make sense to me).

But whatever you do, don't just sit there and let the pounds accumulate, especially pounds around your waist.

9 Responses to “How much do I need to exercise?”

  1. 150cc mopeds says:

    That was a superb post,Maybe I might sign up to your rss.

  2. Peter Springberg says:

    Thanks for the comment; I had to look up rss, but learned something in doing so (and any day I learn something is a good day). My own most difficult dieting issue came after I lost weight and my wife's dictum, "moderate to maintain" has been very helpful.

  3. Henry Barnes says:

    I always make sure that i get an exercise each day, exercise keeps me fit and healthy.-;-

  4. Archie Hill says:

    the best exercise are full body exercises like military press and also swimming.~:*

  5. Peter Springberg says:

    My own view is the best exercise is "pushing away from the table," i.e., eating less. After that recent data shows any exercise is helpful, including walking. Beyond that people should do what fits them best, taking into account their age, degree of physical fitness, any infirmities and even what's available in their area. I'm a poor swimmer and have a nine-year-old artificial knee, so I enjoy biking and burn lots of calories on the recumbent bike in our gym. We have a close friend who hikes 10-12 miles in the mountains twice a week. We have another friend who loves to walk. Do what you can and do it regularly.

  6. Maryam Kaur says:

    i always exercise at leat 3 times a week to develope fuller muscles and cut down on body fat`"-

  7. Peter Springberg says:

    I'm not very concerned about my musculature at my age (69), although as I get older I realize that maintaining upper body strength is important (getting out of chairs, lifting packages). I do think there's data showing getting regular exercise is necessary to keep weight off once you've lost it.

  8. i do a lot of heavy exercise twice a week and it really helped my health to be on excellent condition ~`*

  9. Peter Springberg says:

    I don't think the exercise has to be "heavy" to be helpful. A number of people were concerned about the risks of starting exercise (1 cardiac event per 1.34 million exercise hours is the number I've found), but I think if you've not exercised in years, you should start by walking and if you have cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, smoking, family history etc.), you should see your physician before pushing exercise. I try to exercise at least five days a week, and, schedule permitting, aim for six or seven days/week. A Harvard study I wrote about last March followed 34,000 women for 13 years and the group that did moderate exercise for an hour a day were best at keeping their weight down.

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