How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?

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You know the importance of being physically active. But do you know how active you really should be? From the looks of it, most Americans don’t. According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are meeting the government’s recommendation for aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening.

"Although only 20 percent of adults are meeting the overall physical activity recommendations, it is encouraging that half the adults in the United States are meeting the aerobic guidelines and a third are meeting the muscle-strengthening recommendations," says CDC epidemiologist Carmen D. Harris. "This is a great foundation to build upon, but there is still much work to do."

So, what is the suggested amount of exercise? The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least two and a half hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, or a combination of both. Additionally, it is recommended that adults do muscle-strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups, or other activities using resistance bands or weights. These activities should involve all major muscle groups and be done at least two days a week.

“There are many health organizations that set guidelines for health and fitness in addition to the CDC, which recommends 2.5 hours of exercise a week to gain both the cardiorespiratory and strength-building benefits that is needed to be healthy and fit. Most other health and fitness organizations recommend the same 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week,” says personal trainer and nutritionist Franci Cohen.

Celebrity fitness instructor Kristin McGee also recommends at least 150 minutes of physical exercise a week. “I think five days a week of 30 minutes of moderate activity is great,” McGee says. “And remember to stay active throughout your day not just those 30 minutes at the gym or during your workout,” she adds. 

Where do you stack up? Are you getting enough exercise? If you've been on a gym hiatus, it's not too late to get back in  gear.

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