man and woman riding bicycles, helping your heart

The federal government issues physical activity guidelines for Americans from time to time. The latest of these came out in 2008, recommending that all of us get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. That works out to half an hour every weekday. If the leisure time exercise is higher intensity, only 75 minutes per week are considered necessary.

Pick a Leisure Time Exercise You Love:

It doesn’t matter whether the activity is running, walking, swimming, dancing, biking or playing tennis, the general idea is to move the body and have fun doing it.

There Is a Payoff:

A new study shows that this makes a difference. Analyzing data from six studies with a total of more than 600,000 participants showed that people who met these leisure time exercise recommendations reduced their risk of dying by 31 percent over 14 years. The benefit was similar for cancer and heart disease deaths.

The researchers could not find any negative effects of physical activity, even at 10 times the recommended amount. The more people exercised, the more benefit they got. But the biggest difference was between couch potatoes who got little or no leisure time exercise and those who met the minimum recommendations.

JAMA Internal Medicine, June, 2015

The study did not look at other benefits of regular leisure time exercise, but they are well known. People who get more exercise usually have more success with weight control and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Older people who indulge in regular leisure time exercise appear to be less vulnerable to dementia. The main challenge is for people to find an activity they enjoy and make the time in their busy lives to do it.

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  1. Helen M
    Modesto, CA
    Reply

    As a 77 year old who has survived four cancers, but lost important organs, I find myself with barely enough energy to get thru the activities of daily living. Without my pain meds, smallest possible amounts, even this would be impossible. My activities of daily living include personal hygiene, shopping for nutritious meals, I still drive, spending an hour to two in the kitchen preparing those meals, doing my personal laundry, working on my pills and other health matters; voila!, the day is done! If I add medical visits and time spent on the net to the list, I barely manage the rest. It leaves me with no time and, certainly, no energy to incorporate an exercise program. I know others whose health is not as precarious as mine and who walk for exercise and are the better for it. OTOH, I have read comments elsewhere about people who drop something and really have to think about picking it up.

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