How Much Is Enough?

Maybe you’re saying “OK, I get it; I can see where doing more intense exercise will be good for me. But what’s the minimum I have to do to get the maximum benefit? The issues are frequency and training volume.

When I pick up a book or magazine discussing fitness I see different numbers; some even say with absolute certainty, “In as little as ten minutes a day.” Please don’t believe them.

Frequency: How about four days a week of aerobic work? In addition, include some strength training, which we’ll get to later. Why not? Got something else that’s more important than your health? Remember that we’re talking about improving your brain as well as your cardiovascular system and strength.

Training Volume: This is the intensity times the amount of time, or duration. You need to get up to a minimum of sixty percent of your MHR to do real good. Figure that you’ll need ten minutes to get up to sixty percent — if you work at it. Hitting this level doesn’t happen during a casual stroll — it takes a more determined effort, some huffing and puffing.

Once there, you need to maintain that level for thirty minutes or more. That’s the duration.

Information can be motivating for many of us. A pedometer, which you can buy for as little as ten dollars at a discount store, can tell you how much you’re moving. We then need to add the measure of energy expended to get into aerobic exercise, our goal. For that you’ll need a heart rate monitor.