It’s something we all know we should be doing more of, but do you know how much exercise is actually required by the average adult over the course of a week?
It turns out, not many of us do. The British Heart Foundation has reported that more than 20 million people in the UK are classed as physically inactive, and that this is putting us at huge risk of heart disease.
According to the report, woman are 36% more likely than men to be classified as inactive. So what is the definition of inactive? Apparently, you’re inactive if you don’t achieve the government guidelines to take part in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, and strength activities on two days of the week. In the UK, physical inactivity contributes to almost one in 10 premature deaths from coronary heart disease.
And, depressingly, women spend a total of 74 days sat down, suggesting a huge lack of inactivity. And we all know how bad sitting down for long periods is for our health…
But don’t panic. You could well be getting more physical activity in a week than you think, as it doesn’t necessarily mean a long laborious run around the streets, or an hour sweating it out in the gym.
So what counts as physical activity? According to the NHS, adults (ages 19-64) need to do two types of exercise a week to stay healthy – aerobic and strength exercises.
Moderate aerobic exercise could include cycling, or fast walking. But interestingly, things like pushing a lawn mower, hiking, and tennis can even count, meaning it’s something most of us do, or could probably fit in easily enough. This is the type of exercise that you should be doing for around 150 minutes per week.
And strength exercises? These should work all your major muscles, including the hips, legs, back arms and abdomen, and you can do this by lifting weights, working with resistance bands – or even doing some heavy gardening! You should be doing exercises like these on at least two days in a week.
However, if you’d rather get all your exercise for the week over and done with sooner, it’s said by the NHS that ‘vigorous activity’ can provide way more health benefits than moderate aerobic activity. According to them, a good rule is that “one minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity.”
So what activities are regarded as vigorous? These can include jogging, running, swimming quickly, playing sports such as football, hockey or singles tennis, or riding a bike fast or up hills.
For older adults, aged 65 or over, the recommended guidelines are the same, but the NHS suggests doing moderate balancing exercises on two days of the week as well, for example, yoga or tai chi.