This is the question that is on most people's mind and it's easy to get confused with all the information available to us. So what is the magic formula? The answer is this: there is no magic formula and everyone is different. But here are a few simple rules that just about everyone can follow to stay happy and healthy.
According the Mayo Clinic, a healthy adult should be doing approximately 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Combined with two days of strength training, this is a general formula to get you started.
So the next question what does this exercise commitment look like? Again, there is no one right answer to this and everyone is different, but here is a general idea of a week of exercise:
Day 1: 30 minutes of brisk walking. Treadmill or outdoors. 30 minutes of weight training.
Day 2: 30 minutes of swimming or cycling
Day 3: rest
Day 4: 30 minutes of walking or cycling. 30 minutes of weight training.
Day 5: 30 minutes of swimming
Now, we all know that it isn't always feasible to fit 30-60 minutes in all at the same time. Guess what? That's okay! Break it up into more manageable chunks of time. Aim for 15 minutes in the morning followed by 15 minutes at night. Wherever you can fit it in is great as long as you get your heart rate up.
Speaking of heart rate, the next important thing is to take note of is your exercise intensity. Ideally you want to see your heart rate at around 65% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). The simple way to calculate this is to subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by .65. This number is the beats per minute you will need to reach 65% of MHR.
Example: If you are 40, subtract 40 from 220. This equals 180. Multiply 180 by .65. This equals 117. Therefore 117 is 65% of your max heart rate. Simple right?
Another way to ensure you are working hard enough to benefit from your chosen activity is to use the rate of perceived exertion. According to the Borg RPE, the scale claims that at a level 6, you are sedentary and at a level 20 you are exerting maximum effort (cannot be sustained). The target range for aerobic activity is between 12-16. This scale is subjective but is a good guideline.
Whatever exercise you choose to do, keep it interesting and keep progressing. Remember, nothing happens overnight but if you are consistent and dedicated you will see results as you move towards your health and fitness goals!
By Pilar Bradshaw