It’s common knowledge that sticking to a good exercise program is good for the mind, body, and soul. Being physically active reduces the risk of chronic illness and premature death, decreases stress and blood pressure levels, and so much more. But do you have to be a complete fitness fanatic in order to reap the benefits of physical activity?
No, not by any means.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week in order to have a positive effect on a person. Many people find themselves wondering if this 150 minutes should be broken up a certain way. Is there a difference between spreading the exercise out over 4-5 days a week, or just cramming it all in over one weekend? Do the frequency and duration of the exercise sessions matter?
Researchers at Loughborough University investigated various physical activity patterns with their associated health benefits and mortality records, and published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Led by Gary O’Donovan, Ph.D., researchers collected data from 63,591 participants over the course of 14 years from 1994 to 2008. They looked at four different physical activity patterns:
- Regularly active – Moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous-intensity exercise for at least 75 minutes per week, broken up into 3 or more sessions.
- Weekend warrior – Moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous-intensity exercise for at least 75 minutes per week, broken up into 1-2 sessions.
- Insufficiently active> – Less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for per week, or less than 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise for per week.
- Inactive – No physical activity whatsoever.
The findings of the study were that “weekend warrior, insufficient, and regular physical activity may all reduce the risk of mortality, regardless of the exercising frequency.” In other words, regardless of the frequency and duration of the exercise session, there were positive health effects.
The research discovered that women who exercised for less than 40 minutes and were sedentary for more than 10 hours per day had biologically “older” cells than women who were more active and exercised more. In fact, low physical activity accounted for about an 8-year biological age gap between the women who exercised and those who did not.
Aladdin Shadyab, Ph.D., summarized the findings: “Cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age does not always match biological age.”
Not only does exercise reduce the risk of chronic illness, premature death, and the like, but there is new evidence showing that just 20 minutes of exercise can also decrease inflammation in the body. While the anti-inflammatory benefits of physical activity are not new to researchers, this study dug deeper into the process.
Researchers found that just one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a 5% decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF (a cytokine with pro-inflammatory properties).
“Our study shows a workout session does not actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient. Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity.” – Suzi Hong, Ph.D.
Source: Medical News Today
So, in sum – no, you certainly do not have to be a fitness fanatic or exercise guru to see and feel the benefits of physical activity. Benefits can come from as little as a 20-minute exercise session to decrease inflammation. Feeling stronger than that? Step it up a notch and become a weekend warrior! Or, of course, you can go all out and exceed that 150 minute weekly minimum. Listen to your body, talk to the professionals, and do what you think is right for you. Whatever you decide, just get up and get active!
How can HSG help?
HSG offers a wide range of corporate health classes and workplace exercise programs that can be included in your workplace wellness program to keep your workplace healthy and productive.
We have an extensive, nationwide network of facilitators and fitness instructors, allowing us to provide health and fitness services and workplace exercise programs throughout Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Geelong, Newcastle, and more. Our facilitators are Australia’s leading practitioners in their fields, so you are guaranteed the very best quality classes and sessions.
Here are some of the classes we offer:
We have a full range of workplace exercise programs that can be customised to suit your workplace. They include:
- Boot Camp: Group classes that promote camaraderie, team effort, and fat loss. They’re designed to motivate, inspire, and push people a bit further than they’d normally push themselves.
- Flexibility and Stretching Classes: These classes are a gentler form of fitness training, similar to yoga.
- Pilates: Pilates at work is a low-risk activity that is suitable for a wide range of employees. Promotes strength, muscle tone, balance, flexibility, endurance, and concentration. Sessions are typically one hour long, and a group size of up to fifteen is recommended to ensure appropriate individual attention.
- Cardio/Zumba Sessions: Sessions are designed to increase your employees’ heart rates, keep them huffing and puffing, and get them fit.
- Weight Loss Sessions: Sessions are focused on helping your employees burn fat as quickly as possible.
- Boxing and Fitness: These classes are great for helping your employees have fun, feel empowered, and release their stress.
- Martial Arts: A group fitness class that teaches defense, discipline, and spirituality.
- Fun Run: We can help you plan your own office Fun Run or other event!
Yoga at work provides a positive return on investment because it keeps your office staff both physically and mentally fit, healthy, and flexible. Our workplace yoga classes provide all the benefits that result from reducing stress, plus the additional benefits from improved physical health!
Tai chi (Qi Gong) is quickly becoming one of the most popular components of corporate wellness programs around the world, as it refreshes, relaxes, and re-energizes employees without the strain of other kinds of exercise sessions.