Just keep fit: 150 minutes of exercise a week is enough for that

Since I’ve been running regularly and often, he often asks me: Isn’t that too much? Do you still have the right size? These questions bothered me for a long time, and I felt like they were overstepping the mark. In fact, I think everyone should find the right balance for themselves. No studies will help you with that, we are individuals after all. Nobody works like the other. What’s too much for one person is just another warm-up. However, the question often arises: What do I need to do in order to continue in life?

What does the World Health Organization say?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a clear recommendation: adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should incorporate 150 minutes of moderate activity per week into their daily lives. A number that might frighten many at first. At first glance, this appears to be a large number. When should you do approximately two hours of exercise in a full week already? And above all, what does “moderate” mean? On a scale of one to ten, that would be about five, to give you the feel. In terms of running, that would be more of a brisk walk than interval training. Look? Indeed, those 150 minutes are entirely possible.

The reward is health

So moderate exercise is within the realm of possibilities, and that’s the good news. But it gets better: Anyone who can set themselves up here, and invest those 150 minutes, will be rewarded handsomely, or you will reward yourself. Several studies show that you can achieve amazing things with this workload: the risk of having a heart attack decreases. Likewise, type 2 diabetes, strokes, and some types of cancer have a much lower chance of doing us harm. By the way, there is one number that makes you speechless in this context: Germans don’t move much during the day. On average, we cover 800m a day, so it’s no wonder Germany is getting fatter in international comparison.

This is how you can also manage 150 minutes

Anyone who thinks that the recommended time is unattainable because you have to complete it in one go is wrong. And this is also the result of the studies: you can split the whole time! You can even break up 30 minutes a day. Indeed: that is exactly how it began ten years ago! I ran for 15 minutes in the morning and then again in the evening after work. Yes, this start is difficult. But 15 minutes soon becomes so much more. And anyone can really devote 30 minutes in their daily life.

Again, to give you the feel, 30 minutes of moderate activity is roughly 7,000 to 8,000 steps. A good tracker or smart watch can be good helpers for checking steps. Those under the age of 60 should take at least 10,000 steps per day, and those over 60 should take 6000 to 8000 steps. This is really possible for everyone. Even my dad, who is 72, still runs at least 10,000 steps a day. For him, it’s walking the dog. My father is my great role model. It always was. He was running a lot. Today he walks because his knees no longer allow him to run.

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If you want to be really fit, you have to work hard

A somewhat sober message at the end: the WHO recommendation only mentions the health effects of exercise. If you want to get fitter, if you want to lose weight, if you want to improve your athletic performance, you have to do more. But even so, the number is really manageable: if you want to maintain your weight, if you want to improve and strengthen your endurance, then double it. An hour of activity is enough to achieve all this. And here we are, in fact, back to scale. And here I often ask the question in reverse: Isn’t it a good measure to know that you only have to invest one hour a day in yourself to keep yourself fit and healthy forever? I think this is how it works.

Read all of Mike Claes’ columns here.

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