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Health & Fitness: The bare minimum of exercise you need to be fit, according to an expert

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Going to the gym can be a real drag. We all know that eating healthily and moving more is a great way to be well - but the actual legwork of hauling ourselves to a fitness center just doesn’t feel appealing.

But, while there are no shortcuts to success, there are ways to work smarter - not harder.

In a recent study from theJournal of Strength & Conditioning Research, researchers might have cracked the code and answers the constantly tantalising question of “what is the minimum amount of exercise needed to be in tip-top shape?”

Read on to find out how.

What is the study about?

For those in fields that require you to be in physical shape, just like athletes and military personnel who may be overseas, finding a desired amount of fitness in the week can be challenging when there aren’t many opportunities to hit the gym.

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So when Barry Spiering, a scientist and former research director at Nike, led the study of researchers at the United States Army Institute of Environmental Medicine, it made sense.

The study sought out a way to “maintaining physical performance” with “the minimal dose of exercise needed to preserve endurance and strength over time.”

Fitness is also broken up into three categories by researchers: how often to work out, endurance training and the level of training needed (reps of workouts).


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a little boy that is standing in a room: Several studies have found that not eating before aerobic exercise can lead to “higher fat burning rates than exercising after eating.” There’s a catch, though. Fasting before exercising will cause your body to also break down protein, which you need to build muscle while exercising. The result? You’ll lose fat, but you’ll also lose muscle mass.

Work out at least two times a week to maintain endurance

The study states that “ endurance performance can be maintained for up to 15 weeks when training frequency is reduced to as little as 2 sessions per week or when exercise volume is reduced by 33–66% (as low as 13–26 minutes per session), as long as exercise intensity (exercising heart rate) is maintained.”

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So if you want to run on the treadmill or use an elliptical, all you need is two days out of the week for less than half an hour. You can’t beat that!

Just keep in mind that consistency and the level of intensity must remain the same to keep up the endurance.

To get the most out of your muscles: Working out twice a week is good, depending on how old you are

For younger groups of people, strength and muscle size can remain the same for no more than 32 weeks with at least “1 session of strength training per week and 1 set per exercise, as long as exercise intensity (relative load) is maintained.”

Older groups of people need to stick to two sessions and two to three sets per exercise a week to maintain “exercise intensity.”

Ultimately, the study wasn’t created to determine the degree of exercise needed for people to be the fittest. It’s a way to see how much exercise is required to balance physical endurance and strength.

So get out there with quick body-intensive workout routines that help your heart, muscles, and lungs!

It could be a way to get to a “bare minimum” level of fitness you are comfortable with while becoming healthier.

For more information on the study’s findings, click here.

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