As a lot of us are aware we should be exercising more and keeping fitter, but life seems to get in the way. New studies show that physical inactivity is a major contributing factor in the development of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer. Most adults simply do not exercise enough.
They recently moved the goal posts on exercise. While we were once told that moderate to vigorous physical activity 3 times a week was enough to reduce
our risks of chronic disease, new information shows that what we should be doing is exercises 5-7 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes at a time.
Moderate to vigorous exercise means a fast walk at a minimum. You should be puffing and sweating and realise you are working out. A gentle stroll through a shopping centre or a slow walk and chat with friends is simply not enough to have significant health effects (but is better than nothing).
In fact recent studies show that if you are overweight but fit, and exercise as recommended above you have a lower risk of chronic disease than if you are naturally skinny but unfit (see the graph below that compares risk of heart disease (CVD), body mass index (BMI) and fitness).
So in summary, recent studies have shown that there is a significant reduction in the risk of chronic disease if you exercise 5-7 days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. You should be performing moderate to vigorous exercise where you are sweating and short of breath. These health benefits are there even if you are overweight but exercise regularly.