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A Healthy Exercise Routine Doesn't Have to Take a lot of Time or Money

Dec. 6, 2004 -- Think you don't have the time or money to exercise as much as you should? Think again.

A new nationwide survey shows at least one-fourth of successful exercisers have full-time jobs, young children at home, or both, and walking is the most popular form of physical activity.

The survey, conducted among more than 20,000 Consumer Reports readers, reveals the secrets of successful exercisers -- those people who most closely meet the national recommendations for physical activity by exercising at least a half-hour per day at least three days a week.

The results show that sticking to an exercise routine doesn't have to be boring or expensive, and it could be a lifesaver. For example:

  • 58% of successful exercisers report doing three or more different activities per week.
  • 30% of successful exercisers used a fitness facility or gym at least three times a week.
  • More than half of those who worked out regularly used exercise to treat depression, a heart problem, back pain, or diabetes and said they and their doctors agreed that exercise helped a lot.

Experts say that to reap the most health benefits from exercise, you need to strive for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, preferably spread out over five days. If you do, the health benefits include a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, and dementia.

However, if your goal is weight loss, you'll need to aim for 250 to 300 minutes a week

Tips from Successful Exercisers

In the survey, which appears in the January issue of Consumer Reports, researchers polled 21,750 readers about their exercise habits.

Thirty-eight percent of the respondents were classified as "successful exercisers" and performed moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes at least three days a week (usually more). That group includes 12% the researchers classified as "hard-core" exercisers who exercised at least five days a week and had kept it up for at least five years.

The survey showed that 36% were "unsuccessful exercisers" who did a little exercise but not enough to reap the health benefits. Many people in this group said they wished they exercised more regularly. Fifteen percent of the respondents were considered sedentary.

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