If You Don't Break a Sweat, Exercise Won't Do Much for Your Health

  • By Lee Kum-sook

    May 01, 2019 08:23

    Regular workouts are necessary to keep you healthy and fit, but you can get the most benefits only when you exercise above a certain level of intensity.

    The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of medium-intensity exercise and 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. At least 300 minutes of medium-intensity exercise brings more benefits.

    Low-intensity exercise has virtually no health impact. The benefits begin with medium-intensity exercise, which raises the breathing and heart rates, but still allows you to have enough breath to talk to others.

    Some examples of medium-intensity exercise are fast walking (about 4 km per hour), aqua aerobics and cycling at 16 km per hour. Yang Yoon-joon at Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital said, "Many people say they do exercise, but they don't do it at a sufficient level of intensity. If you want to get the most benefits from exercise, it is recommended to gradually increase the intensity."

    The maximum benefits of exercise with instant results come from high-intensity workouts where the body temperature climbs, resulting in sweating, and chatting with others become difficult as breathing gets deeper.

    High-intensity exercise brings the same benefits in half the time. Examples include hiking in the mountains with a heavy backpack, running, swimming, aerobics, and cycling at above 16 km per hour. Weight training or strength training at least twice a week is recommended, gradually increasing the intensity.

    "It was often considered that even a slow walk would help maintain your health. But it is advised to put a focus on the intensity of exercise to get any benefits from it like strengthening muscles and preventing cardiovascular diseases."

    Regular exercise is essential particularly for the elderly as it is proven to be effective in preventing dementia, but only when it is intense enough to raise your heart beat and leave you out of breath.

    It is important to keep your limits in mind when exercising, however. High-intensity exercise carries a higher risk of injury, and even a heart attack. "It is a good idea to increase the duration of your current exercise regime. If you can endure it, then increase the intensity," Yang said. "Once you increase the intensity, maintain that level for six weeks. If you are comfortable with it, increase the intensity again," he added.

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