By Dr. Phil Maffetone
Recent suggestions aimed at boosting daily exercise requirements to an hour have brought up many questions among health experts, many of whom are concerned it might actually result in more people not exercising.
Previous recommendations that people get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise resulted in most Americans not exercising. Now the recommendation of an hour may leave exercisers and non-exercisers alike with a "why bother?" attitude.
The point is the majority of Americans get no regular exercise at all. And this is a significant contributing factor to rising numbers of people who are overweight and obese.
While the human body is designed to be aerobically active for many hours per day, any amount of exercise is better than none at all. If you can't or don't wish to exercise for four hours, maybe you can exercise for an hour. If you can't put in an hour, then maybe you can exercise for 30 minutes. I've often recommended people exercise for 29 minutes if 30 minutes seems like too much of a psychological barrier.
If you have never exercised, aerobic exercise is easy and simple and can help stimulate your fat-burning system. It can be done with a simple 29-minute walk a minimum of five times per week. You can do this on your way to work, or on your way home, as part of your lunch break or anytime. It can be performed walking indoors or outdoors. Or you can use a treadmill or stationary bike, either in your home or at the gym. A simple aerobic workout will easily fit into your current work schedule and requires no special equipment, clothing or gear.
Time is no excuse for not exercising. You can always fit in a 29-minute workout at some point during the day. Within that time, include a 12-minute warm-up period, during which your activity level is very easy. For the next 5 minutes move at a faster pace, but not so fast that it becomes uncomfortable -- there's no need to break a sweat and you should be able to carry on a conversation. The remaining 12 minutes is your cool-down, another period of very easy activity. This is an optimal aerobic workout -- one you can do in your work clothes during the course of the day. If you like, you can spend more than 29 minutes, but that's the minimum.
Whether is a half-hour, an hour or more, building an exercise program into your daily lifestyle is an important step in increasing fat-burning and losing weight. This is discussed in my booklets, The ABCs of Weight Loss and Sensible Eating and The ABCs of Burning Body Fat, available on this site.