Finding the right amount of exercise

Too much, too little or just the right amount.

When it comes to exercise, Goldilocks never went down that road with the three bears, but some experts have advice.

While a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested 150 minutes of exercise is optimal, that number is already the recommended amount of weekly exercise in Canada and the U.S.

Dr. Jack Goodman, a professor and researcher in kinesiology at University of Toronto, says the amount of exercise you should be doing depends on whether you’re looking for health benefits or fitness benefits.

“For the people who are jogging 30–40 minutes a day, five days a week, they’re really getting what seems to be an optimal level of health benefits,” Goodman said. “They may not get into the ultimate level of fitness because you maybe need a greater dose of exercise.”

The health benefits seen by completing 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week, are wide ranging Goodman says. These can include positive results for people with heart disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. There are also numerous ways to attain these health benefits.

“There’s a long spectrum,” he said. “You can get some health benefits by doing some brisk walking and that may help to change body composition over a long period of time.”

Barry Samuel, founder and director of Insideout Health and Fitness in Leaside, says the programs he builds for people who come to him depends entirely on what their needs and goals are.

“One of the very basic things we do is first have a conversation with somebody and say what is your goal?” he said. “Then we find what’s realistic for mapping out a program for them that will help them to see results in six weeks, or three months, or by spring.”

Regardless of needs and goals, Samuel said he also takes a holistic approach while determining how to help someone meet those goals, which goes beyond exercise alone.

“Is it sports specific, is it lifestyle, is it rehab?” he said. “We have to look at the overall person, establish some habits in their lifestyle and see what fitness levels would be suitable for what their needs are.”