These benefits combine to improve longevity, reducing premature death from all causes by 16% and from cardiovascular disease by about 25%.
Looked at another way, lack of physical activity is estimated to be the 4th leading cause of death and the principal cause for approximately:
These benefits come from relatively minimal efforts: 20 minutes of exercise and the avoidance of prolonged sitting every day.
Twenty minutes a day to feel better and live longer - not a bad trade-off!
The World Health Organization has set 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity/exercise and the avoidance of prolonged sitting (>8 hrs per day) as the threshold required to get most of the benefits from physical activity.
Of course, the benefits do not stop at 150 minutes, and many people feel better with two, three or four times that amount.
Not everyone incorporates consistent physical activity into their week, and these guidelines can be intimidating for those with busy schedules or a lack of exercise experience.
In fact, only 17% of Canadians get 150 minutes of “moderate-to-vigorous physical activity” per week. (2019 Canadian Health Measures Survey)
This strategy will get you started and help you progress. Master each principle before working on the next. If you are new to exercise, start at the beginning. If you currently exercise, review each principle and begin with the lowest one you are not yet doing.
By following this strategy, you will develop habits that incorporate aerobic, resistance and functional movement activities, allowing you to accrue the benefits of exercise sustainably forever.
We categorize exercise behaviours into two levels and encourage mastery at Level 1 to maximize physical activity enjoyment while minimizing injury.
At this level, you meet the WHO standard and accrue most of the health benefits from exercise.
After 6-8 weeks of consistently hitting these targets, you have mastered Level 1. You will have the foundation to progress your exercise to the next level, getting even more benefit in the process.
This next level expands on the foundational behaviours by incorporating a portfolio resistance, aerobic, and functional movement training into your routine.
After 6-8 weeks of consistently hitting these targets, you have mastered Level 2.
We hope that everyone can become Level 2 athletes, progressing their fitness and enjoying the benefits for the rest of their lives.
Next week: Move throughout the day - the first step to an active lifestyle.
Need help applying this to your busy life?
Get a personalized fitness plan to help you get started, progress or improve your enjoyment of physical activity
The TARGET Fitness Plan gives you expert advice to transform your exercise habits - whether you are getting started or want to improve your current program. Our exercise physiologist will assess what you are currently doing and provide you with a personalized fitness plan based on the LEVEL Up Your Fitness Strategy.
Dr. Brendan Byrne