Thirty-minutes of heart-raising activity, done regularly, is all it takes for the majority of people to get fitter, lose fat or move better.
You don’t need to flip tyres, perform plyometric squat jumps or invert yourself in pulleys.
You don’t need to train for marathons or climb mountains.
These things might look or sound fancy schmancy on Instagram and some people love to do these things BUT the reality is, that regular exercise is key. And it’s the ‘regular’ rather than the ‘exercise’ that’s important because consistency and compliancy always win over the occasional bit of fancy over-exertion.
30 minutes of daily activity
When potential clients enquire about personal training, the first questions we ask are:
What are your current activity levels?
What do you want to achieve?
Closely followed by:
What are your current commitments or constraints?
What time are you prepared to put into this?
If the answer to current activity levels is zero, or ‘I’m really unfit’ we suggest that before investing in personal training they first commit to 30-minutes of brisk walking or heart raising activity every day.
This can tell us (and the client) a few things – rather like a psychotherapist helping a client to find their own answers:
Is this person prepared to take on advice, which might be a little off kilter with their expectations?
Is this person ready to commit to the extra time it will take them to get the results they want?
Also, most importantly, we know that it’s regular commitment to getting more active that the majority of people need to do more of, for themselves. And of course, achieving a full week of additional activity is a quick mental win as well as a physical one.
Keep it simple
Even though between us, Chris and I have over thirty years of experience coaching fitness, learning about fitness and doing fitness, the biggest thing we’ve learned in those years is that simplicity always wins.
This is why we have a 30-minute mantra.
There are thousands of personal trainers, fitness instructors and online trainers out there making it oh so complicated. But it really doesn’t have to be.
We’ve got into a bit of a fitness rut in the UK. There’s much talk of fitness fanatics, fitness freaks and the latest trend. People feel like it’s fit people versus the rest. You’re either fit or you’re not. It’s ‘for those fit types’ and not for me.
That’s manufactured nonsense.
It started when gyms and health centres were created as places to go to in order to do exercise. Paying to exercise became some sort of validation as to its effectiveness. It separated the genuine exercisers from the fakers based on a membership card or receipt, never mind if they went in to do nothing more than sip coffee.
Most people could improve their health, both short term and long term and improve their immediate sense of wellbeing just by raising their heart rate for 30-minutes. The heart and lungs have no idea whether you’ve paid for someone to instruct you on working out or if you’ve just walked to the shops.
If you aren’t convinced, here’s some evidence. And these are published research papers rather than stuff that sells!
A 2018 study published in the journal: Clinical Epidemiology found replacing 30 minutes of sitting with low intensity activity was linked to a 24 percent reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
A 2012 study from Stockholm University found that overweight men who exercised hard enough to make them sweat for 30 minutes a day lost an average of 8 pounds over 3 months compared to an average weight loss of 6 pounds among men who worked out for 60 minutes a day. The study published in the American Journal of Physiology found the 30 minute exercisers burned more calories overall during the test period, perhaps because they had more energy to be more active during the rest of their days and were less likely to over eat to compensate.
Public Health England and WHO guidelines
According to Public Health England the minimum recommended amount of exercise adults need to do is 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week. That’s the minimum.
A January 2018 study from the University of Southern California found that it was aerobic activity which significantly reduced the risk of Alzheimers. The research published in the the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that 150 minutes of weekly aerobic activity could delay cognitive decline in active older adults.
A magic pill
And in a speech made at the University of Birmingham, Dr James Brown from the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University said that 30 minutes of exercise daily was the equivalent to taking a ‘magic pill’. He said a daily 30-minute walk could protect agains obesity and type 2 Diabetes, reduce the risk of some cancers, combat depression, slow the progression of Alzheimers disease, cut arthritic pain by half and slash the the risk of dying by 23%. Just 30 minutes of walking. No gym. No membership card to validate the efficacy of the exercise!
So why do we think exercise has to be difficult?
Advertising and clever marketeers know you’ll spend your money if you feel guilty, or if you compare yourself to the people in their adverts who apparently use their facilities (or are actually just models).
Add to this the fact that the majority of film, TV, magazine, picture and sub-editors are not exercise or fitness experts so can tend to perpetuate the ‘exercise is hard’ myth for the rest of the world. They use footage or examples that show people in gyms, sweating lots rather than regular people having a nice, brisk walk!
Only last year, when I was consulting for an activity campaign that had at its heart, the removal of obstacles to activity, a TV crew came in and immediately wanted to film campaign participants inside a gym. They were filmed walking on treadmills, when there was a massive park outside in full sunshine and all our campaign photography had focused on walking, cycling and non-gym based activity. It’s a way of packaging fitness and putting it in a nicely gym-wrapped pigeon hole. It made me cry on the inside.
Or perhaps it’s a convenient excuse. It might be a bitter pill to swallow but pretending it’s difficult to get more active (this is the ‘I hate gym’ folks) could just be another barrier you put up for yourself.
But the truth is this: Fitness is available for everyone, not just for fit types.
And: 30-minutes is all you need.
In fact, if you have a fitness trainer and they can’t give you an effective workout in 30 minutes, they’re probably not very good!
Fitness doesn’t have to hurt. It doesn’t have to be a chore. It doesn’t have to be all at once. And there’s no such thing as a ‘fit type’ we can all move more and be a bit fitter as a result.