Is 149 minutes enough?
Apparently not. Everything you read about how much you should exercise – regardless of the goal – mentions the same target.
150 minutes per week of “moderate” intensity or 75 minutes of “vigorous” intensity.
What if you only had time for 30 minutes of moderate intensity in a week? It would be a waste of time because you didn’t achieve the goal, right? How about if I only did 149 minutes of moderate intensity Again, a waste of time, right?
No. In both cases. Every health behavior you take does you good. The 149 minute example is to prove a point about the mismatch between the objective behind guidelines we are given and the way our brain perceives that message.
Exercise guidelines are almost always ineffective for many reasons:
- We do workouts on a daily – not weekly – basis, so the weekly guidelines mean we have to do math (another thing we hate) to figure out if we are meeting the guidelines.
(Side Note: Daily guidelines would be best, but there would likely be widespread panic, rioting, and a revolt if any government body suggested that we do physical activity…every…day. Gasp!)
- Our brains often interpret guidelines (which are, by definition, fuzzy and not absolute) as rules. Thus, if we do less than “enough” our internal “pass/fail” teacher gives us a failing grade.
- Most of us mix moderate and vigorous intensities leaving us befuddled with how to combine the two.
- And of course, most people have no idea what “moderate” and “vigorous” intensity means. Especially for people who believe they hate exercise, everything feels “vigorous.”
(Side Note 2: Recent research showed that people who self-reported as not liking exercise worked harder but did not report the effort as harder when they were listening to motivating music during a high-intensity interval workout.)
What do we make of all this?
If you ask me, I can’t tell you how many minutes of exercise I do in a week. I can tell you how many days, but I couldn’t begin to add up a weekly total of minutes.
You know you’re doing enough when…
- You have a body that (mostly) works well
- You have a body that allows you to do things you want to do without worry
- You do not spend most of your days thinking about your physical limitations (from lack of fitness, not injury or disability)
- You find enjoyment (aka, “fun”) in some form of physical activity
What if we applied the logic often used with exercise to other areas of life:
- I don’t enough water to drink…so I will not drink any water.
- I don’t have enough money…so I will stop working.
- I don’t have enough food for a full-size dinner…so I will eat nothing.
- I don’t have anything to wear to the party…so I will wear nothing. 😲
It is always easy to see how crazy most of the twisted logic we often apply to fitness is when we apply it to some other area of life.
Just get started, do something more than you don’t do something, and stay consistent.