What do heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression have in common? Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of developing these—and many other—health problems.
You don’t have to sprint like a racer to reap a lifetime of health benefits from aerobic exercise. Even a leisurely walk is better than sitting on the couch watching TV. However, you’ll gain more significant health benefits if you pick up the pace to at least a moderate intensity.
What counts as a moderately intense activity? It’s one that raises your heart rate and makes you break a sweat. When you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you should be breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate should go up significantly. A brisk walk becomes more demanding when you break into a jog.
You can gain a lot of health benefits by sticking to a moderate pace, including:
A reduced risk for heart disease
Lower blood pressure levels
Healthier cholesterol levels
By boosting your activity level from moderate to vigorous, you’ll reap these benefits in half the time. Experts recommend getting 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes) or more of vigorous exercise each week. In contrast, moderate exercisers need to work out for at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) every week. Break down the 75 minutes or 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed.
Looking for an easy way to gauge your intensity level? You can use the talk test: If you can talk comfortably, you’re working out at a moderate intensity. But when doing vigorous exercise, you may be able to say a few words, but you can’t hold a conversation.