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How long do you really need to exercise?

Last Modified: November 18, 2022

Sports & Exercise


This post was written by Linying Xiao, ATC, certified athletic trainer, Parkview Sports Medicine.

Regular exercise is one of the cornerstones for maintaining good health. Regular physical activity helps to prevent heart and blood vessel disease, diabetes, dementia and even some types of cancer. But do we need to log countless hours on the treadmill to gain these rewards, or will a few minutes a day do the trick?

Measuring the minutes

As a general goal, most people should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines for most healthy adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

Want extra credit? For every additional 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, there was a further 4% reduction in the risk of death.

Getting the movement in

For most people, life is busy. We are constantly trying to balance family, work and daily demands for our attention. It’s natural to feel like you don’t have time to exercise every day. Let’s look at it another way. Try incorporating small bits of exercise throughout the busy day.

Morning yoga is a good way to start the day. While you’re at work, try moving more. Ideally, you should stand and walk around for five to ten minutes every hour. Set an alarm to remind yourself. Research shows that exercising during the workday can boost your productivity. And as you lay on your bed at night, do some stretching while you are watching TV or playing with your phone. These all count for exercises.  

Be kind to yourself and find ways to move that make you feel good. Exercise doesn’t have to be torture, but it can be a tremendous, life-extending tool for your overall well-being.

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