What is the minimum you need to exercise to be fit?

When starting your fitness journey, you need to know what your goal is, and what is the minimum amount of exercise you need to do to reach it.

The first question a person asks when they are introduced to the world of exercise, is how much exercise they need to do. This includes how long to exercise each day, and how many days each week, and so on. The answers will probably determine how many years they can do it. Although the benefits of exercise are the most researched and proven, it is the hardest thing to start and be consistent with.

Fitness is like medicine they say, so there must be a minimum effective dose for it to have any effect on the human body. Oxford dictionary refers to the minimum effective dose as, the smallest dose of a particular drug that produces a specific effect on an organism. Also called minimal effective dose. But can this principle really be used in exercise?

Turns out, algorithms can figure out how old you are, before sending you a selection of internet articles. So while still half a decade away from turning 40, it sent me a medium piece that said, Looking Better Than 99% Of People Over 40 Is About One Thing, written by trainer Chris Davidson, who calls himself a lifestyle coach for bored, out-of-shape Over-40s. His answer was figuring out the minimum amount of exercise needed in a year to look good. It breaks down the workouts into a mathematical formula, suggesting that it’s better to do two workouts per week, for 52 weeks (104 Workouts), than five workouts per week for six weeks, three times a year (90 Workouts).

Obviously it depends on how long the said person has. In general, people in their 40s may have various responsibilities in life that may be greater than or different from someone younger. Motivation may also be lower, making two workouts per week for 52 weeks the perfect sell for those who want to get fit. It also depends, as it always does, on the goals. Not all middle-aged people are out of shape. Some may want to return to a fitness regime. Some may want to step up and chase a 1RM (the one-rep max, something I wrote about early last year in a Lounge piece titled, The Science Behind Testing Your Strength With 1-Rep Max), some may want to be faster, some may just want to look better.

Some athletes may require high levels of targeted training. For example, an Olympic swimmer hoping to shave a tenth of a second off his 50-meter freestyle, might need three hours of exercise a day. But for most people who want to build strength for a healthy daily life, three workouts of 30 to 60 minutes per week are usually enough, says a Experience Life article titled, When It Comes to Exercise, What’s the Lowest Effective Dose?

The minimum effective dose of exercise depends on three main parameters: increasing strength, mobility, and endurance. The combination of these three is the perfect fitness routine. This includes some resistance training, some activation and mobility routines, and cardio or HIIT work.

A review of Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research titled, Sustaining Physical Performance: The Minimal Dose of Exercise Needed to Maintain Endurance and Strength Over Time states that, for muscle size, the minimal exercise frequency required to maintain adaptations may depend on the age of the subjects. In younger subjects (2035 years old), as little as 1 strength training session per week seems to be sufficient to maintain muscle size, whereas in older subjects (6075 years old)… we conservatively recommend performing of resistance training two sessions per week to maintain muscle size, as this frequency has previously been proven effective.

And what about speed? This is a more complex topic because speed work requires rest, a measurement of the different levels of stress you face, and a careful consideration of progress. But for those who think that fitness is difficult to get into, will be happy to know that conservative approaches are better than shocking the body if the plan is long-term.

Try a low-volume plan and evaluate your body’s response before you add additional exercises or try high-volume training. As you crawl, the intensity and volume will definitely need to increase for you to continue to improve, but always pay attention to your body. If the dose-response curve is decreasing and fatigue exceeds recovery, you’ve gone too far, says an excellent TrainerRoad.com article, written by cycling expert Sean Hurley, titled, Minimum Effective Dose: How Much Should You Train to Get Faster?

Finally, if you want to check the basic guidelines of the World Health Organization, they suggest a simple enough starting point: that adults do 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, 1.25 hours of vigorous- intensity (or a combination of both) and muscle strength training twice a week targeting major muscle groups. So there you have it, now start exercising!

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

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Image Source : lifestyle.livemint.com

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