Just when we thought we knew it all, official health exercise guidelines have been questioned. Is 150 minutes a week really enough to protect us from disease?
Fitness can help protect us against numerous lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But new research from the University of Queensland has suggested that we need to boost the recommended activity rates by five times in order to reduce disease risk.
The study used Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes to add up exercise of different intensity. Think of these as measures of effort. Doing nothing is one MET. Three METs is light exercise and six METS is intensive.
At present, the current recommended amount of exercise by the World Health Organisation is 600 “MET minutes”, or at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Moderate exercises examples include brisk walking, bike riding and gardening. Vigorous activities make you breathe so hard and fast it’s hard to hold a conversation, such as running, boxing and HIIT.
Apparently not. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that 600 MET minutes made hardly any impact at all. Instead, sharp reductions in disease risk required at least 3,000 to 4,000 “MET minutes” per week.
In other words, we should be doing more than 12.5 hours of moderate exercise or 6.25 hours of vigorous activity each week.
We know how busy you are! Most people aren’t able to spend this much time deliberately exercising. So as well as doing your regular gym workouts, you should incorporate more activity into your daily routines in order to up those MET minutes.
Gardening, vigorous housework, walking or cycling to work, carrying heavy bags... Lots of activities can add up to make a huge difference. Try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting and include as many muscle strengthening activities as you can.
Increasing your activity levels won’t only decrease your risk of disease; it will also make you feel and look healthier, improve your brain function, increase your energy levels and give you a positive zest for life. Enjoy it!
Well, what a surprise, a new piece of research going against current advice. I don't think I can keep up. I'm just doing to do what I enjoy and forget the surveys. Wouldn't it be nice to live years ago when people didn't have so much scientific discoveries?
This is not really surprising because I think as humans we are designed to be active throughout the day, not just in half hour spurts here or there. I feel sorry for anyone with a desk job, must be tricky to get more active.
ah - better turn it up a bit after reading this! I do try to take the long way round whenever possible so it is good to know that is also helping.