There’s lots of conflicting information out there about how long you should exercise for at a time—and how often—to best protect your heart. So what is the right answer?
Some experts say twenty minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT), three days a week is all you need to blast visceral fat and keep your heart in tip-top shape. Others insist that even shorter spurts of strength and cardio are equally as effective. There are also a range of runners who feel most healthy jogging nearly every day of the week. (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.)
But according to new research, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing or how hard you’re going as long as you’re doing something—and a lot of it as time allows. A new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine revealed that the more you exercise, the healthier your heart is going to be—there’s truly no cutoff. In fact, by capping your physical activity, you could be selling your heart short.
“In this study,” the researchers conclude, “we found no evidence of a threshold for the inverse association between objectively measured moderate, vigorous, and total PA [physical activity] with CVD [cardiovascular disease]. Our findings suggest that PA is not only associated with lower risk of CVD, but the greatest benefit is seen for those who are active at the highest level.“
In other words, the more you exercise, the more you set yourself up for good heart health.
“Physical activity is even more important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease than we previously thought,” the study’s first author Rema Ramakrishnan, M.P.H., Ph.D., biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health at Oxford University, tells Eat This, Not That!
Of course, you can’t spend all day every day working out. If you need an expert-recommended length of time to hit each week, Ramakrishnan says that “individuals should try to follow the new WHO guidelines on physical activity, which recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults.“
Of course, even when you’re aiming to reap as many health benefits from exercise as physically possible, it’s important to listen to your body. Be sure to keep in mind these 7 Warning Signs You’re Exercising Too Much.