What does the recommended “60 minutes per day” really mean?

Posted December 12, 2015 Written by Liz Gold

Well, with all the talk of New Year’s resolutions I am hearing a lot about this topic.  The government recommends sixty minutes of exercise per day.  I know a lot of people, including myself, that think this is an unrealistic expectation.  I consider myself to be in the “very active” category and even I don’t work out sixty minutes every single day.  But if we take a closer look at what the guidelines really say, I think you’ll be happy to know your New Year’s resolution is very attainable.

The government is trying much harder to align their recommendations with the latest in scientific studies, and they are also doing a better job defining and clarifying what the expectations are for those sixty minutes.  The alarming rates of obesity in our country have brought significant attention to our sedentary lifestyle, and with an estimated $600 Billion Federal dollars allocated to healthcare costs, the government has an interest in the subject.

First, everyone is different, and depending on your age and how active your lifestyle might already be, then thirty minutes a day should be adequate if combined with a healthy, balanced, nutritional plan.  If you are over forty, have an office job and sit at your computer every day for nine hours a day, eat unhealthy lunches at your desk, and then commute in a car for three hours a day, then sixty minutes of exercise is probably a good idea.  But between all that working and commuting, getting that exercise time seems even more impossible, right?

But here’s the good news, sixty minutes of exercise can mean almost anything.  Walking to and from your favorite lunch spot at a brisk pace counts as exercise. Walking up and down three flights of stairs with full laundry baskets counts as exercise.  So what are the actual guidelines?  Check here for the latest official details from the CDC.

In a nutshell, their message is this:  Take sixty minutes out of your day and figure out how to make them more active. Get a sense of how active you are today and then brainstorm all of the ways you can increase your movement.  Some examples might include:  Stop taking the elevator to and from your fourth floor apartment, take half of your lunch hour to walk around the block a few times, actually walk your dog around the block instead of just letting him out in your yard in the morning (he’ll love you for it anyway), do fifty sit-ups every night while watching the news, use a pedometer and start monitoring your activity.  Did you know the average Amish adult takes almost six times as many steps each day than an average American adult?  Probably just one of the many reasons the obesity rates in Amish communities are 87% less when compared to other American communities.  Many people just don’t realize how little exercise or physical activity they are getting every day. The main goal of the guidelines is to force people to actually think about it.

My husband and I are big proponents of Tony Horton and P90X.  We actually did the entire 90 day program and just loved it.  I felt like I was in better shape than ever before.  In one of his videos, Tony says, “We stumble, we fall, but we MOVE”.  So you don’t necessarily have to be in a full sweat for sixty minutes each day, but just get out there and MOVE.  And don’t forget healthy eating habits, because even if you work out for two hours every day, the basic fact is, if you take in more calories than you burn, you will still gain weight!