Physical Activity: What is the Least you Should do to be Healthy?

Woman and man exercising

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LatinAmerican Post | Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Actividad física ¿Qué es lo mínimo que debes hacer para estar saludable?

It is no secret to anyone that physical activity has health benefits. In addition to helping to reduce stress, it is associated with a reduction in mortality and a decrease in the possibility of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Physical activity is always related to well-being. Apart from physical health, it is also recommended for mental health and various other benefits. But, have you ever wondered what is the absolute minimum amount of physical activity you need to do per day or week to start seeing the benefits of it? Today in LatinAmerican Post we tell you.

According to the latest guides that we have available on sedentary lifestyle and physical activity from the World Health Organization, there are different recommendations on the amount of exercise that each person should do daily to see improvements in their health.

How much you should exercise according to your age

For children and adolescents (5-17 years) this amount is, on average, 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. According to the WHO, there is not enough evidence to determine that one type of physical activity has more benefits than another, which means that you can see benefits whether you play soccer, go to the gym or ride a bike.

In the group of adults between 18 and 64 years of age, things are a little different. The WHO specifies that any physical activity is better than none, but it no longer recommends a daily average, but rather a weekly one. In their report, they suggest that a weekly average of 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous physical activity is enough to start seeing several of the health benefits mentioned above.

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You may have heard the myth that physical activity has to be done in 10-minute intervals to count, but, in its latest report, the WHO itself clarifies that this is precisely a myth. If you exercise 5 minutes a day, this would, hypothetically, count toward your total amount of exercise for the week, as far as seeing the health benefits.

The WHO specifies that some of the benefits that may be of interest to adults in this range are a reduction in the possibility of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.

Finally, we have the group of adults over 65 years of age, who also benefit from performing these 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity, but have gains that do not apply to younger people. Exercising after this age can decrease the risk of falls, reduce body fragility and help with bone health, which can prevent the onset of certain diseases such as osteoporosis.

The most important thing is to avoid sedentary lifestyle

Some physical activity is better than none for those who do not currently meet these recommendations. People should start with small amounts of physical activity and gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and duration over time.

If you work from home, for example, you can try walking to a café or coffee shop a few minutes from home to meet your daily exercise quota without having to radically change your routine. You can also take small actions, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, to rack up exercise minutes. Finally, it is advisable to try to get up from your workplace every 40 minutes and walk a little, to avoid the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

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