No matter how much you may want to hear otherwise, the chance that researchers will ever come up with any of these findings is slim to none:
• Smoking is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
• Cake, when eaten in unlimited amounts, is good for weight control and heart health.
• Exercise isn't really important after all.
Researchers have, instead, just come out with even more evidence that we need to be doing plenty of exercise -- and we need to be doing it often. The American College of Sports Medicine sent out a news release last week touting the organization's new stand on the importance of exercise for healthy adults, saying that it "definitively answer(s) the age-old question of how much exercise is actually enough."
That may be a bit of a reach, as science continually finds new answers to our old questions. However, these recommendations add a loud bang to the steady drumbeat of research establishing our need for exercise.
In the paper, the ACSM recommends that most adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on at least five days a week for a total of at least 150 minutes a week. Or you can do at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Or you can get a combination of the two. Plus you need a couple of strength-training sessions and several minutes of stretching each week.
I know: This news isn't a wake-up call for most people (in fact, this news might prompt some to fall asleep or click on something more interesting, like a video of a cat doing something funny). But what if I framed this news in the language of the pop-up computer ads that urge you to spend big bucks on remedies with little to no scientific support:
FREE, EASY REMEDY SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO PROTECT YOU FROM COMMON KILLERS!
A leading health organization has established once and for all that an exhilarating yet simple practice that takes just minutes a day can ward off many of the leading causes of death in America ... and protect you from giving your hard-earned money to your doctors!
Literally all you have to do is get out of your seat and put one foot in front of the other for 30 minutes!
Developing this one habit can help protect you from:
• Heart disease
But wait, there's more! Regular exercise can also help:
• Protect your bones
• Ward away depression
• Keep you slim
• Boost your energy
• Keep you mentally focused
Does that help get you motivated? If not, try this on for size: If you can't muster up the time or intensity recommended above, the researchers urge you to at least do something. As they write: "... a program of exercise that does not include all exercise components or achieves less than the recommended volumes (intensity, duration and frequency) of exercise is likely to have benefit, particularly in habitually inactive persons."
And even those who are already getting sufficient exercise should cut down on the time they spend sitting (e.g. using the computer or watching TV) and do more to move around -- or at least stand up from time to time.
For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn't mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers' eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders' insights and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.