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Minimum Effective Dose of Exercise

Dr. Jake Fisher, DC

What Is the Minimum Amount You Should Be Exercising?

Everyone’s exercise routine was interrupted over the past year. Gyms were closed or at minimum capacity. Workout equipment was sold out, and with quarantine people were told to not go out in public. Spring is almost here and as “government restrictions” and “local mandates” are lessened, opportunity exists to rebuild that exercise habit, if not already doing so. Before getting into details of the minimum dose of exercise every average American should strive to build to, I am first going to tell you the benefits of doing such. All information is going to be pulled from the American College of Sports Medicine, ‘Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.’ The ACSM is a leading provider in research for education and practical application of exercise and sports medicine. As always, consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

There are a number of benefits associated with regular physical activity and one of the main associations is lowering the risk of all-causes of mortality. This can include lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia. Research also shows that you can lower the risk of certain cancers including breast, colon, bladder, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach. Physical activity can help with brain health by improving cognition and can reduce the risk of developing dementia, depression, and anxiety. Regular exercise can improve bone density and bone health. Even a single session of moderate to vigorous exercise can enhance insulin sensitivity, sleep quality, and cognition on the day it is performed. If you would like a detailed list of all health benefits please refer to the ‘Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans’ document.

The ACSM recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity spread out throughout the week. On top of this, they recommend at least 2 days a week of resistance or muscle strengthening activity targeting all major muscle groups. An example of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a brisk walk that elevates your heart rate, recreational swimming, tennis, active yoga, and yard work. An example of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is running, swimming laps, vigorous dancing, cycling fast, HIIT classes, and jumping rope.

It is important to note that everyone is starting from a different level of fitness. If you are starting from a level of inactivity, then starting with five minutes of daily activity and progressing to the ACSM guidelines is recommended. The best approach is low and slow, start at minimal intensity with slow movements and progressions. Less fit adults are more likely to have a higher risk of injury, so it is important to have a gradual increase in the rate of activity week over week. You should first start by sitting less and moving more throughout the day. If you are already meeting the minimum requirements, then progressively overloading volume, intensity, and frequency gradually will substantially improve your health benefits.

If you have any chronic health conditions or symptoms, then it is advised to be under a licensed health care provider to better understand the limitations and what is a suitable or appropriate amount of activity.

In conclusion, try your best to strive to meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and two strength training sessions per week with your current workout location, equipment, and level of fitness.

Jake Fisher, DC, CSCS, CF-L1 spent 10 years as a strength and conditioning specialist before joining Washington Park Chiropractic as an associate chiropractor. He has attended the Olympic Trials three times as an athlete in Greco Roman Wrestling and is currently training for the 2021 Trials. Dr. Fisher is also a CrossFit Level 1 Coach and is currently training for his Certified Sports Chiropractic Physician credential. He has a special interest in working with athletes and creating at home rehab programs that are easy to follow and show measurable results.


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