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Are you doing enough exercise for health and weight loss?

Jane is a customer service manager on the shop floor at her local Marks & Spencer store. She cycles 30 minutes to work every day and does the evening dog walk with an energetic spaniel for an hour after dinner. Jack is a computer analyst sat at his desk all day. He goes to the gym after work for an hour at a spinning class three times a week. Who’s got it right?

According to new research (*), Jack’s not doing enough. Not to compensate for sitting in front of his computer all day. Here’s the point. You have to think about how you spend the rest of the day. If it’s sitting down it’s still increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Sitting down for long stretches of time raises the fats and the sugars in the blood.

Did you know NICE recommend 30 minutes 5 times a week of exercise for health? That’s to reduce the chance of getting heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But if you want to prevent gaining weight (especially if you’ve lost weight) that needs to be about an hour a day. And don’t rely on exercise alone for weight loss, unless you are starting to train for Strictly Come Dancing.

Woman drinking water after exercising

Of course, there’s a point at which your activity over the week can offset your sedentary job. Apparently it’s the equivalent of running for 5 hours a week! I like the running machine at the gym. But I was like Jack; I did my 3 gym sessions a week and felt smug.

So, now I’ve bought a fitness tracker band. Nothing fancy, the cheapest, but more reliable than a basic pedometer. You can use a phone app if you remember to have your phone with you all day. I’m targeting 10,000 steps a day, every day, which is about 5 miles. I still go to the gym 3 times a week, for a little over an hour a time. But the other days, I take walk breaks through the day. The key is brisk and at least 10 minutes at a time.

Find out where you are and target 10,000 steps worth of exercise for health. If you’d like to talk to me to ask a question or get help about food and lifestyle contact me here or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ZFNutrition .

* Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 20;162(2):123-32. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Biswas et al.

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