I can't even count how many times I've packed a gym bag and set my alarm at the crack of dawn only to sleep through my morning workout. I'll then proceed to bring said bag of exercise gear to work with the intention of heading to the gym afterward. But by the time 7 p.m. rolls around, I usually just end up ordering takeout, meeting friends, or catching up on the news. And as guilty as I feel for not sticking to my gym goals, there are a few scientific studies confirming that I may be onto something here (albeit unintentionally).
Specifically, a panel of health experts reviewed a range of research findings to determine how much and how hard people need to work out to reap the health benefits associated with exercise—like a longer lifespan, to name one of the more convincing payoffs. They reported that "all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week." But what if you don't have time during the week?
A separate study conducted by Loughborough University and published in the American Medical Association's journal supports these findings and also reveals even greater news for busy people. The press release concludes that "frequency and duration appeared not to matter among those who met physical activity guidelines," so a couple days a week is all it takes.
Indeed, the participants who crammed the recommended amount of exercise into one or two days rather than working out for shorter, less intense sessions throughout the week were just as fit. This is because those who only work out one or two days a week also tend to exert themselves more each session. In other words, it's important to focus on how effective our workouts are rather than how often we're able to squeeze in some gym time. And even more simply put, just think quality over quantity. Once I did, I was able to ditch the guilt and focus on getting fit for my health instead.