One of the most popular excuses we make for not taking regular exercise is that we simply don’t have time. However, a 2012 study shows that just 30 minutes a day is enough, and works just as effectively as an hour in helping us lose excess weight and improve our fitness. Over a three-month period, a group of overweight men who exercised at an intensity which made them sweat for half an hour lost over half a stone on average over that period. A similar group of men who worked out for 60 minutes lost, on average, two pounds less.
That difference is significant over a year, and may lead to more sustainable weight loss in the long term. But why is that? The explanation would appear, in part, to be that 30 minutes of exercise is relatively easy; it’s not that tiring, and the body is unlikely to rebel by insisting on being relatively sedentary for the rest of the day. The increase in energy would appear to encourage both the will and the ability to undertake further physical activity, leading to increased weight loss. Additionally, there’s a suspicion that the group working out for a longer period either needed to eat more, or thought that they could get away with eating more because they were exercising for longer.
Half an hour of exercise is easy to fit in, too – taking trainers to work for a brisk walk for part of the journey home easily makes it part of your day without going out of your way to visit the gym. A run across the park with the dog can serve as your half an hour at the weekends (and the dog will love it too!), although you will probably find that you’re also experiencing the half-hour effect, and will have the energy for this in addition to your scheduled exercise. If you’re a fan of games consoles, half an hour with a fitness game can be a lot of fun, and an easy way to fit in that thirty minutes when the weather’s bad outside, or you can’t get to the gym. Before you notice that you’re even increasing your daily activity at all, the pounds are melting away, and your physical fitness is much greater.
Just as you should always visit your doctor before you start any new exercise regime, years of carrying even a fairly modest amount of excess weight can cause problems for your joints, and could also make you marginally more likely to pick up an injury when working out, no matter how careful you are with warming up and cooling down. So that you stay on track, it’s worth getting to see an orthopaedics specialist as quickly as possible, who will be able to advise on treatment and recovery from anything from a severe sprain through to fractures and joint replacements – all of which will make sure that you are back to that magic thirty minutes of exercise as quickly and safely as possible.