Exercise doesn't have to be totally torturous to be beneficial for our health, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of South Australia found that "somewhat hard" exercise intensity -- which exercisers deemed to be "pleasant" -- was enough to increase aerobic capacity by 17 percent, which is linked with improving blood pressure and body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height).
"If you're going to prescribe someone exercise, you're going to have a much stronger chance of having them stick with it if they're enjoying it," study researcher Roger Eston, professor and head of the school of health sciences at the University of South Australia, in a statement. "And these people actually enjoyed the experience. They found it to be pleasant."
The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, analyzed the effects of an eight-week exercise regimen, where sedentary study participants exercised on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
The study participants were allowed to change the intensity level themselves, so long as it was perceived as "somewhat hard," according to the study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults do a mixture of two kinds of exercise a week -- one that strengthens muscles, and one that boosts your heart health. For the recommendations, click here.
Another study, published just last year in the journal The Lancet, also shows that there are possible health benefits from exercise, even if you're not exercising to the max. ABC News reported on a Taiwanese study showing that as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day can help lower the risk of cancer and even add years to life.
"The 30-minute a day for five or more days a week has been the golden rule for the last 15 years, but now we found even half that amount could be very beneficial," study researcher Dr. Chi-Pang Wen told ABC News. "As we all feel, finding a slot of 15 minutes is much easier than finding a 30-minutes slot in most days of the week."