Here at 2 Fat Nerds, we have consistently recommended our compatriots to exercise at least three times a week, for thirty minutes. This is a total of ninety minutes. This total, would enroll them in our “Chain Game”, where we strive to tie as many three-workout-weeks in a row as possible.

As many of you would probably agree, consistently achieving three days a week has been a struggle for the vast majority of us, because of … well life. A handful of people have been able to extend their streak to amazing lengths, but in general few rarely get past five, and fewer past ten weeks. Ninety minutes a week really isn’t that much time when you really think about it. That is an episode of chopped, and a Diners Drive-Ins and Dives rerun.

10399313_513154542531_5932_nA recent New York Times article looks into new research that suggests in reality, we should actually be exercising significantly more. 

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

450 minutes per week seems pretty daunting. Rereading the article again, because surely 450 minutes was way too much to ask, I noticed that the key phrase was “mostly by walking.” Moderate exercise, not vigorous (like running) showed the greatest improvements and decreased mortality. 

Those who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were 9 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately, while those who spent more than 30 percent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat.

Realistically I do not want to move the goal-posts for the chain-game, because I understand how difficult in practice it is to carve out time to exercise. But, I would like to encourage more users to submit when they go on walks (walks for fitness, or commuting . . . not around the mall shopping!), because it would be interesting to see just how close to the 450 minute mark we approach. I would be very interested in looking at the types of workouts preformed in a given week, strenuous vs non strenuous, and calculate the fraction of time spent doing these exercises.

Follow the below guidelines suggested by the NHS UK.

How do I know if I’m exercising moderately or vigorously?

Moderate intensity aerobic exercise is where you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat. You’re working at a moderate intensity if you’re able to talk but unable to sing the words to a song.

Vigorous intensity aerobic exercise is where you’re breathing hard and fast and your heart rate has increased significantly. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.