30 Minutes of Exercise Each Day is Crucial for Women

Healthy SELF, SELF Magazine

April Daniels Hussar,SELF magazine

Ladies! We're behind the guys when it comes to getting enough
exercise -- a new national study reveals that women are less likely than men to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, putting us at a greater risk for developing a host of health problems, including depression. Time to catch up!

In the study, published online in the journal Preventive Medicine and conducted at Oregon State University, 1,000 participants were fitted with accelerometers that measured activity as they went about their normal days. The results? Women get an average of 18 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, compared to 30 minutes for men. What's up, ladies?

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The researchers also studied the participants for signs of depression and metabolic syndrome, which, explains study researcher Bradley Cardinal, professor of social psychology of physical activity at OSU, is a group of health conditions that in combination dramatically raise a person's risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. They found that one in five women had symptoms of depression and slightly more than one in three women had metabolic syndrome.

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What's particularly interesting about the study is that in many ways, the women had better overall health profiles than the men. For example, Cardinal says, "Women were less likely to smoke than were the men and also had better HDL cholesterol levels (i.e., the good cholesterol), blood pressure profiles, waist circumferences, glucose levels, Vitamin B-12 levels and triglycerides."

However, the incidence of depression was higher among the women in the study, and the average women only achieved 18 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. Among those women who did get at least 30 minutes per day, their odds of having depression and metabolic syndrome were 85 percent less compared to those who did not achieve 30 minutes. For men, their odds were 66 percent less. In other words: There's an even stronger connection between getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and avoiding those health problems for women than there is for men -- yet women aren't getting their 30 minutes in as often as men.


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Don't feel like you have time to work out every single day? The most important thing, says Cardinal, is getting two and a half hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week. It doesn't necessarily have to be daily, but it should be spread out over several days. "One hour, three to four times per week would be more than sufficient for achieving this," he says.

Even better news for the time-strapped: "The activity can be split up into multiple shorter chunks of time," says Cardinal. Three 10-minute bouts in a day would do it, as might even shorter segments. In fact, he says, "I would speculate that 15 two-minute bouts of activity would be better than no activity. In other words, doing something is better than doing nothing, with the goal being to accumulate at least 30 minutes several days per week, totaling 150 minutes or more."

Come on -- you have two minutes to spare right now. Let's see some jumping jacks!


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