What Really Works
Within the past year, an increasing number of exercise and wellness trends have surfaced. Whether it be from a favorite social media influencer or Michelle Obama herself, it’s hard to know what should be taken seriously and what’s just a passing fad. Read on to find out what the experts are saying when it comes to daily fitness needs.
Studies show that taking 10,000 steps per day may not be as beneficial as people think. This is true for three reasons. One: It’s not about the quantity of steps, but the quality. There’s a difference between taking 10,000 slow, meandering steps and taking 10,000 fast-paced ones that get your heart rate going. Two: The definition of a “step” is too narrow. Fitness trackers have a hard time identifying activities like yoga and weight training – both of which can break you into a sweat in no time. Three: “10,000” steps is arbitrary in that it’s just “a lot of steps.” Depending on your fitness abilities and goals, you should adjust that number and the types of activities in which you reach it.
So where did 10,000 come from? It originated in the 1960s when a Japanese company started selling pedometers. They ended up naming the devices manpo-kei, which literally translates to “10,000-step meter.” Studies later confirmed that individuals who take 10,000 steps per day have lower blood pressure, more stable glucose levels and better moods. So while the number is rooted in truth, it’s better to take 5,000 strategic steps than 10,000 mindless ones.
30 Minutes a Day
Much like the 10,000 step theory, it’s not about the quantity of exercise you get, but the quality. Thirty leisurely minutes on the elliptical show far different results than 30 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises that work your muscles to the limit. That’s not to say exercising 30 minutes a day isn’t good for you.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests 150 minutes of exercise per week, or, 30 minutes a day. Studies have shown that someone who exercises 30 minutes a day has lower blood pressure and cholesterol and benefits from a higher muscle-to-fat ratio. The 30-minute recommendation is more so aimed at sedentary individuals looking to incorporate regular exercise into their daily life. After you’ve developed a routine, it's recommended adding increasing levels of intensity to build up endurance.
For decades, health experts touted regular daily exercise as the best method for staying healthy. But studies suggest that those who exercise only on the weekends live just as long as those who spread their workouts throughout the week. Dubbed “weekend warriors,” individuals who spend all 150 minutes of the recommended weekly exercise time between one to two sessions have shown to benefit from the same results as those who spread out that time over the course of the week.
While this new information may seem like an exciting loophole for individuals too busy to fit in daily exercise, only about 1-3 percent of American adults actually complete the recommended amount of time in one to two days. Additionally, the study did not take into account other factors like strength, blood pressure or weight control.
The best way of determining the right exercise plan for you is talking with your physician or a fitness coach. Take into account your current state of health, limitations and goals, and go from there.