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Want to Live Longer? This is Exactly How Long Your Workouts Need to Be, According to Science

Hint: It’s shorter than you think.

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Think you need to log an hour-long workout daily in order to be as healthy as can be? While a long sweat session can do wonders for your head-to-toe health and wellness, it isn’t necessarily a must-do for everyone. If your focus is exercising to stay well and live longer, a lengthy workout isn’t required, according to the latest research.

When it comes to breaking a sweat, shorter sessions can be just as effective as hours of workouts – as long as you’re exercising vigorously, that is. And it turns out that scientists may have pinpointed the exact length of time your workouts need to be to maximize the benefits for your long-term health.

About 22 minutes of exercise each day makes a big difference

The next time you lace up your sneakers and hit the gym (or your living room), you don’t need to spend more than half an hour getting your heart pumping. In fact, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, all you need is about 150 minutes per week. That breaks down to just 22 minutes per workout.

The study’s researchers came to this magic number after reviewing data collected from over 400,000 adults, all of whom participated in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2003. They took a close look at the self-reported physical activity included in the survey’s data, looking for exercise habits that lined up with a longer lifespan and lower odds of developing diseases. 

Researchers discovered that those who participated in vigorous physical activity – meaning they did heart-pumping exercises like running or HIIT workouts – more often, in comparison to their overall total amount of exercise, had a lower risk of early death. But that wasn’t the only benefit. These individuals also had lower risks of cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer mortality. 

The researchers’ findings suggested that individuals who perform moderate to vigorous exercise 150 minutes per week (in total) saw improvements in the length of their lifespan. That means that aiming for this amount of exercise each week may possibly offer you better odds of living a longer, healthier life.

Vigorous exercise is best, but all exercise counts

While the study’s findings do suggest that any exercise helps you live longer, those who performed more vigorous workouts saw the biggest benefits. So, running for 22 minutes may be more effective when it comes to a longer lifespan than walking. 

But that doesn’t mean you should axe low-impact workouts altogether. These slower-paced forms of exercise may not get your heart rate up as high as a quick HIIT workout, but they’re still great for your health. Remember, varying your workouts to include cardio and strength training, stretching and varying degrees of low- to moderate- to high-intensity exercise gives you a whole host of benefits. And when you change things up, you challenge yourself and your muscles. 

When it comes to longevity, 22 minutes per day of vigorous exercise can be beneficial – but you can also follow up that workout with a low-impact cool-down or increase the length of your workouts if you’re alternating different kinds of exercise throughout the week. As long as you’re moving, you’re doing your body good.

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