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You don’t have to exercise daily to remain healthy

The health benefits of maintaining regular exercises are far and wide. When you remain physically active, you reduce your risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. Risks of heart disease come down as well, and life expectancy tends to be longer. But the question has always lingered about how much one needs to exercise to reap adequate health benefits.

The general recommendation for adults is 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. This doesn’t appear to be a huge amount of time to dedicate each week to physical exercises. But a typical working week has so many other competing interests, and dedicating time daily to exercises may not always be possible. So could you cram your exercise hours to one or two days per week and still reap the health benefits?

Some researchers in northern Europe have tried to address this very question. They looked at data on individuals who exercised only once or twice in a week, and compared health parameters with those exercising most days of the week. The results showed that those exercising less days in the week had almost similar health benefits to their counterparts who exercised almost daily. The data supports the idea that some physical activity, even below recommended thresholds, helps prevent disease and premature death.

How does this relate with your physical activity regime? If your schedule allows for daily exercises, keep at it. On the other hand, you don’t need to feel guilty when you miss out on several days of exercises in any given week. Well, try and catch up on the weekends, or any other time that you can spare. You can choose to cram all your weekly exercise hours together in one or two bouts. And you will still remain on the brighter side of health.

But while frequency of exercises may not be too important, you cannot put your guard down and get away without any exercises at all. Doing some sort of physical activities every so often, even when this is below the recommended thresholds, still confers health benefits. If you can’t manage a vigorous aerobic workout, you could at least do a brisk walk. Or a light jog, or a swim, or any other activities that may take your fancy. The idea is to make sure you are not sitting around all the time, get up and do something.

Remember physical exercises are just one component of all the things you should be doing to maintain good health. You must also eat healthier, drink less, avoid smoking, and be up to date with all your health screening. Knowing you can skip some days off your exercise schedule is no excuse for engaging in other unhealthy activities.

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