How Much Exercise Does One Needs?

By Dr. Panchajanya Paul

Exercise has multiple health benefits. It decreases the risks of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer, depression and anxiety. There is a vast amount of data linking a physically active lifestyle to lower rates of morbidity and mortality. All the body functions benefits from exercise. Exercise even stimulates the formation of new neurons in the brain by activating brain growth factors. From maximum benefit, exercise needs to be done on a regular basis. Choose the form of exercise you may enjoy like running, walking, swimming, dancing, soccer, tennis, etc. As long as you experience physical exertion, you will reap the benefit. Those with less time can try high intensity exercises like sprints. It is better to do exercise in a group as people can motivate and inspire from each other. The popularity of group fitness classes like CrossFit and Orange theory fitness is testimonial to this.
According to the US department of health and human services -"Some physical activity is better than none. Inactive adults should gradually increase their level of activity. People gain health benefits from as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. For major health benefits, do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Another option is to do a combination of both. A general rule is that 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity counts the same as 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity. For even more health benefits, do 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week or a combination of both. The more active you are, the more you will benefit. When doing aerobic activity, do it for at least 10 minutes at a time. Spread the activity throughout the week. Muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or vigorous intensity should be included 2 or more days a week. These activities should work all of the major muscle groups -legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. Examples include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and doing sit-ups and pushups, yoga, and heavy gardening"

Exercise is the best remedy for stress management. Exercise lowers the stress hormones also called the glucocorticoid levels in the blood. People who exercise regularly has a better conditioning and lower recovery time from physical exertion. Their baseline glucocorticoid levels stay low. Most of the harmful effects of chronic stress are medicated by the persistent elevated glucocorticoid hormones. Those who exercise regularly keep the level of their stress hormones low, and are able to bounce back faster.

Now, exercise does not mean going to the gym or going for run. Any physical movement, as long as it makes you move like a simple walk can be considered an exercise. The challenge is to motivate ourselves to more. Some people do better when they can count, and compare. For them, getting a wearable fitness tracker which measures the heart rate, steps, and miles walked may be helpful. There are many choices in all styles and prices from Jawbone, Fitbit, Garmin, Apple and Samsung watches. Then there are simple habits one can incorporate at their work and home which will make their lifestyle more active. One of them is using a standing desk. Since most of us spend an inordinate amount of time on the computers, standing while typing will keep us moving. Other measures like getting up every 20 minutes from your chair and move. Use a pedometer or a fitness tracker. A mundane and boring activity like walking and moving can become fun and competitive once you compare with family and friends. I wear a Fit-bit Charge and try to do the recommended 10,000 steps per day. There are other small lifestyle changes you can also make. Park your car a little further, so that you are forced to walk. Run as many errands as possible by walking. Walk and talk instead of texting or emailing when you can. Stand while you talk on the phone. Prefer to speak with the person face-to-face rather than texting them. Seek all opportunities to move. Some offices are holding standing and walking meetings. Recently, I got rid of the copier and printer from my office. It has freed up my office space and forces me to walk down the hallway to get papers. I stopped bringing bottled water and now use a recyclable mug. Every time I get thirsty, I walk to the common area to refill my water. In addition to moving, it allows a chance to share ideas with your colleagues and catch up with the latest gossip.

In summary, for the first time in human history, we spend most of our time sitting. Our body was never meant to be sedentary. Sedentary lifestyle plays havoc on our metabolism. It decreases the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which can cause fat accumulation. It reduces our lifespan and makes us prone to multiple illnesses. The solution is simple- MOVE! Exercise! Make use of the fitness gadgets and tools available to make you less sedentary. Lastly, make a personal commitment to stand more, move more, and exercise daily. Pick up your favorite sports, enroll for the leagues. Try to find more opportunities to move rather than sit. We become healthier, happier, and smarter as we move and exercise more.
Exercise recommendation by department of health and human services:



Dr. Panchajanya 'Panch' Paul, MD, ABIHM, ABPN, FAPA - is an American Board certified - Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds an adjunct faculty position at Emory University School of Medicine; University of Georgia, and University of Central Florida School of Medicine. Call 7704541252 or email to schedule an appointment with Dr.Paul at Georgia Behavioral Health Professionals. He is also the author of 2 books- Stress Rescue and Sleep Coaching available at Amazon.