Edward Phillips, M.D.,,founder and director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-host of WBUR’s Magic Pill podcast., said, “You probably need to move less than you think to reap the health benefits.”
“People have heard the message that you need 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week [according to federal guidelines]. If you get that, you’ll get 85 percent of health benefits we talk about. However, the misconception is that if I don’t do that, or if I don’t do it all at once, it’s all or nothing,” he says. Phillips also points out that the guidelines call for moderate-intensity exercise, which means you don’t have to be killing yourself with long runs, boot camp, or spin class five days a week in order to relish the rewards.
“A lot of people think exercise means you have to hit the point where you’re completely out of breath and panting after you’ve finished,” says Phillips. “You can do that, but for the majority of health benefits you don’t need to.”
And while your fitness goals probably go beyond lowering your risk for disease, it’s nice to know what research actually shows when it comes to how much exercise you should be doing each week for better health. Here’s how the numbers break down.