The short answer is 30 minutes on 5 days, every week.
As always it starts with the “it depends” and it does, consideration of various factors that need to be discussed, and that is why general advice can only ever be given and found on a blog.
Firstly, considerations around your medical history and conditions. Recommendations are going to be different for someone who has just had heart surgery, amid cancer treatment, or had a recent hip replacement compared to a child. So the generic one sentence is often not satisfactory.
Next up, we will have a look at what your current physical activity is on an average week and consider your goals. If you are classified as ‘healthy’ across the board and enjoying 5 x 30-minutes of exercise each week, answering any exercise-related questions, assisting where I can to keep you active might be all that is needed.
If you have diabetes and walk 5×30 minutes a week, looking into the introduction of a resistance program in place of two walks may be ideal. Resistance exercise on non-consecutive days is best practice with no more than two days of inactivity. However, if you were diagnosed a month ago and consistently walked 30-minutes, 5 days a week for 5 years, exercise intensity, duration, and advice from a dietician may be areas to be put under the microscope with allied health professionals.
Alternatively, if your BMI sits at 32, and you’re struggling to lose weight despite increase exercise in the past three months. Understanding what your whole life entails is key to give good advice – some things that may be considered are, who you live with, what your occupation is, exercise history, knowledge around exercise, physical activity preferences, what you are currently doing, what is your goal and what motivates you to reach your goal/s.
I do not mean to scare anyone away here, but recommendations for those with a BMI >30 is 60-minutes of exercise, daily. Which, for those who do not enjoy, do any, or feel they do not have time to exercise. That 60-minutes can be quite daunting. So instead of getting bogged down, have a proper reflection about the following points, write your answers down:
- What are your current activity levels? (washing clothes, and housework does not count as structured exercise, but I will allow moderate-intensity gardening).
- Realistically, what are you able to manage? (days, minutes, financially)
- How important is it for YOU to increase your activity levels (and ‘my doctor said I had too’ is not an answer – if you think it is, reread the question.
- Set a goal. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed.
If you have been through this, I would breakdown how you exercise. You go to the gym – what do you do? How are sessions run? Do you have social support? Are you following a program? Has the program been made for you, or is it generic? Are we targeting the desired muscles? All in conjunction with the exercise intensity, duration of sessions, overall daily movement, dietary factors, and discipline.
If you’re new to exercise, this may be daunting, one step at a time is best, if that’s doing 20 minutes more this week than you did last week – you are on the right track!