The minimum recommended by most health professionals is 30 minutes per day 3 times per week. Many will get benefits from as little as 15 minutes per day, 3 days per week. But for maximum health and for the Depression Recovery Program, you will need to get 30 to 60 minutes, 5 to 6 days per week. Remember gardening, wood chopping, raking leaves, brisk walking to the mail, all count as exercise. So if you live in the country it is easy to get your exercise in short order.
Intensity (how hard you exercise) is also an important consideration. If you dawdle along on your walk you will need to go a lot farther to receive benefit than if you went faster and got your heart rate up quicker, within moderation of course. Do not run as fast as you can until exhausted, just so you can speed things up. In fact, any activity that causes panting or heavy breathing can adversely affect your digestive system, kidneys, liver, and circulatory system, even causing heart attacks. One should never exercise past their target heart rate for an extended period of time.
Cardiac reserve, the measurement of the heart to work between the resting heart rate up to maximum output, varies in different individuals. The average is 4x, while an athlete can be up to 7x, and a person with a heart condition can have little or no reserve. This is why it is especially important to check with your doctor on what you MHR and THR is if you have any medical condition.
Exercise has so many benefits, here is just a sample of what it can do:
Strengthens the bones
Improves HDL (good cholesterol) and strengthens the heart
Boosts energy levels
Stimulates the immune system
Reduces stress & tension
Helps relieve depression
Improves overall health
You will need your resting pulse and age to do the following formula.
Your target heart rate is found by:
(220 - age - RHR) X 0.4 + RHR = THR
Example for a 35 year old, with a resting heart rate of 70: (220 - 35 - 70) x 0.4 + 70 = 116 THR.
Now, add 5 to your THR and exercise until you reach this heartrate. Once you have achieved this rate you “rest” (slow down) until your pulse is THR - 5. So in our previous example, the person will exercise until HR is 121, then ‘rest’ until the HR is 111. There are machines that let you know when to change the pace.