It’s January 7th and you’ve just completed 6 days of consecutive workouts whilst drinking nothing but green juice, tears and sweat. The only problem? You now have to go back to work and are not sure how many more kale shakes you can stomach.
So how do you juggle the fitness resolutions you set yourself with your manic boss, your social butterfly partner, date night and meal prep? Well, as it turns out, each year a number of health and fitness experts weigh in on this #topical topic, providing you with the latest scientific intel on how to
be lazy stay as fit as possible with the least amount of effort.
So if your aim is to stay healthy (as opposed to becoming World Crossfit champion), you can put away the $14 Acai bowl and quit your expensive gym membership, because according to experts, it’s possible to maintain a basic level of fitness without working out for hours a day.
And you don’t even need to like sports, because no matter your lifestyle: there’s a type of exercise that will suit you—some of which you’ll already be doing; all they need is a little tweak.
The good folks over at the ABC consulted personal trainer Cassie White (and University of Queensland professor Wendy Brown) to get some examples of these sorts of activities. This is what they came up with…
“Riding a bike, hiking with friends, or using an elliptical trainer while watching TV are all options. Just make sure you’re doing them at a brisk enough pace that requires some effort.”
As for the exact amount of time you need to spend exercising, Australia’s national guidelines (for adults between the ages of 18 and 64) say you should be doing 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of “moderate intensity” physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of “vigorous intensity” physical activity each week (or an equivalent combination of both).
This means the absolute minimum amount of exercise you can get away with doing (per week) to be considered “healthy” is two and a half hours of moderate intensity (power-walking, cycling, swimming), or one and a half hours of high-intensity activity (running, HIIT classes, boxing).
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According to the guidelines, muscle-strengthening activities (like push ups, sit ups and squats) should be done at least twice a week, to maintain muscle mass—in turn protecting your joints and cartilage.
The guidelines also recommend reducing the amount of time you spend sitting down. This is important because, as reported by the Mayo Clinic, “The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of metabolic problems, which can impact your health and longevity, even if you achieve the recommended amount of daily physical activity.”
That said, “If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more,” (via the Mayo Clinic). And if you want to aim even higher, you can achieve more health benefits if you increase your exercise to 300 minutes or more a week.
Another tip for those short on time is to break your exercise down into short chunks (otherwise known as fitness snacking): “If you can’t fit in one 30-minute walk during the day, try a few five-minute walks instead… Any activity is better than none at all,” (Mayo Clinic).