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Going Beyond the 30-Minute Threshold continued...

"For those who are following the 30-minute guideline and gaining weight anyway, they may need as much as 60 minutes a day to prevent weight gain," says Pate.

And at the high end of the spectrum is 90 minutes of exercise every day.

"The 90-minute recommendation is for people who have been significantly overweight, lost a substantial amount of weight, and seek to maintain that weight loss in the long term," Pate tells WebMD. "Data from the National Weight Loss Registry indicates that people who have been overweight succeed in losing and maintaining weight loss for an extended period if they are highly active during the period when they are maintaining the loss."

Ninety minutes is the bottom line for people in this category, although some might comment that most people aren't even doing 30, so why would they do two or three times that?

"It looks different, and dramatic and potentially controversial," says Pate. "But whether you like the facts or not, it's important to base the recommendation on the best science available."

What Changed?

While these new guidelines may be a frightening thing in the face of a busy lifestyle, they're not far off from where we've been.

"The 2005 dietary guidelines really spell out for us what we've been told along," says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.

In 1996, explains Bryant, the U.S. surgeon general issued a position that Americans should strive to obtain 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days. While some might have interpreted that to mean three days a week -- a common misconception -- the science has always indicated more than that was necessary to maintain weight and promote health.

In 2002, the Institute of Medicine upped the ante by saying Americans needed to accumulate even more physical activity if they wanted to effectively control weight.

"The 2005 guidelines put all this together and refined the information," says Bryant, "basically saying you want to strive to get in as much physical activity as you can on most days: 30 minutes a day if you're a person of normal body weight and you just want the health benefits of being physically active, 60 minutes if you want to control your weight, and 90 minutes if you want to lose and sustain."

Running, walking, gardening – it’s all good. Regardless of what you do, regular exercise and physical activity is the path to health and well-being. Exercise burns fat, builds muscle, lowers cholesterol, eases stress and anxiety, lets us sleep restfully. In this guide, we match resources to your exercise needs -- at every fitness level.

Exercise Benefits

Your heart, your brain – your entire body – benefits from exercise. In this chapter, we’ll bust the exercise myths that hold you back and help you set goals.

The Basics The Basics Exercise Program: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide

There’s no need for a grueling gym workout. Learn the benefits of dancing, gardening, and more.

Your Exercise Routine: How Much Is Enough?

Health experts advise 30-90 minutes exercise daily. Is that realistic for you? Find out if 30 is enough for you.

Stretching and Flexibility

Stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15-30 seconds is what's called a static stretch, and there's no harm in stretching that way as long you don't stretch until it hurts. But studies suggest a dynamic stretch is just as effective and sometimes better, especially before your workout.

Your Body Your Body 7 Benefits of Exercise

Sure, exercise makes you sweat. But working out is worth the effort. Here are seven good reasons to just do it. Click here to get started.

Tool: BMI Calculator: Are You Overweight?

With this quick tool, you get a body mass index (BMI) number – an indicator of your body fat. Are you overweight? Find out.

Exercise for Healthy Heart

With this quick tool, you get a body mass index (BMI) number – an indicator of your body fat. Are you overweight? Find out.

Your Mind Your Mind Get Regular Exercise for Mental Health

Exercise is about more than keeping in shape. It also can help with your emotional and mental health.

Tips for Success

The path to a regular exercise routine has great rewards as well as roadblocks. We’ll help make it simple and safe – and give you motivation to push on.

Beating the Obstacles Beating the Obstacles 9 Least Effective Exercises Slideshow

Who has time to waste on ineffective, risky exercises? Not you. So ditch these nine moves that may not deliver the results you want -- and may even cause injury.

The Top 6 Exercise Excuses and How to Beat Them

How to overcome your fitness excuses and start exercising.

Winter Workouts

There are plenty of ways to be active in fall and winter, even if the weather turns cold. You can stay in shape and have fun while you're at it.

Hot Weather Workouts

Summer is a great time for being active. Even if you live where it gets hot or humid, there are ways you can stay in shape year-round. But make sure to take precautions when you are active outside.

Avoiding Sports Injuries Avoiding Sports Injuries Sports Injuries A-Z

Learn about different types of sports injuries and treatments.

Sore Muscles? Light Exercise Can Help

If you’re just starting an exercise program, soreness can come even 48 hours later. Learn what’s going on – and what to do about it.

Lactic Acidosis Related to Exercise

Lactic acidosis occurs naturally during vigorous exercise.

Head Injuries: Causes and Treatments

Head injuries are injuries to the scalp, skull, or brain caused by trauma.

Achilles Tendon Injury

Head injuries are injuries to the scalp, skull, or brain caused by trauma.

Knee Ligament Injuries: PCL, LCL, MCL, and ACL Injury

Ligament injuries in the knee - such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) -- are dreaded by professional and amateur athletes alike.

Rotator Cuff Tear

It's one of the darkest fears of pitchers, tennis players, and many other athletes: a rotator cuff tear.

Prevent Muscle Strains

Muscle strain -- or muscle pull or even a muscle tear -- implies damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons.

Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

WebMD takes a look at common workout injuries, how to prevent them, and what to do when workout injuries occur.

Get Lean

You gain flexibility, burn calories, and look sleeker when you’re active and exercising. Ramp things up a notch, and you’ll reap more results. Start here!

Cardio 101 Cardio 101 Cardiovascular Exercise: The Basics

Running, swimming, biking – it’s all good cardio exercise. Add strength training, and voila – you’ve got cut muscles, too.

Fitness & Running: A Beginner’s Guide

We’ll get you off and running with these tips. Get a good pair of running shoes – and prepare to lose weight.

Walking for Exercise: It Does a Body Good

Feel your body wake up -- get happy and healthy by walking.

Swimming Exercise

Learn about the health benefits of swimming.

Yoga and Pilates Yoga and Pilates 15 Pilates Moves Slideshow

Stretch, strengthen, tighten your core body with Pilates. If you crave a leaner look, learn more here.

Related Guide: Yoga: 5 Tips to the Right Yoga Style

Iyengar, Astanga, Bikram – the many yoga styles can be confusing. This article will help you decide which style fits your needs.

Tools to Use Tools to Use Tool: Resting Metabolism Calculator

What’s your metabolism? Use this tool learn your daily calorie burn. You might be surprised.

Tool: Target Heart Rate Calculator

Use this tool to make sure you’re working hard enough – but not too hard -- during exercise.

Video: Get Your Cardio With Elliptical Training

Not sure what “elliptical” is? It’s a great machine for those who want non-impact exercise. Watch this WebMD video to see elliptical in action.

Fitness Gadgets and Workouts A-Z

Review all types of workouts here.

Fitness Gadgets and Workouts A-Z

Do these shoes help you shape up? Health and fitness experts size up toning shoes. 

Get Strong

Build more strength and you’ll lose more weight -- plus you’ll tighten those problem spots, like abs. We’ll show you the ropes.

The Basics The Basics Weight Training Basics

Call it “weight” or “strength” training, it’s just as important as aerobic exercise. Learn more about the importance of muscle.

Calf-Strengthening Exercises

Want great looking calves? Try these safe, simple, and effective exercises for toning and strengthening your calf muscles.

Plyometrics

Learn about plyometric exercises. Find out what plyometric training is, benefits, who should and shouldn’t try it, and more.

Upper Body Upper Body Video: Lats Exercises

Get advice from personal trainer Aaron Small, PhD, on the right way to work those lats.

Video: Biceps Exercises

In this part of our series, we get advice from personal trainer Aaron Small, PhD, on the right way to work your biceps.

Video: Triceps Exercises

Get advice from personal trainer Aaron Small, PhD, on the right way to work your triceps.

Video: Chest Exercises

In this part of our series, we get advice from personal trainer Aaron Small, PhD, on the right way to work your chest muscles.

Lower Body Lower Body Video: Calf Exercises

We all have our “problem areas”, are yours generally found below the belt? If so, these lower body exercises from personal trainer Aaron Small, PhD, can help tone and tighten you from your hamstrings to your calves.

Video: Squats

Personal trainer, Matt Minter demonstrates the right way to use a free motion squat machine to strengthen and tone your  lower body muscles.

Butt Exercises Slideshow

If you feel your "rear view" needs a makeover, the right fitness routine can provide a natural lift.

Abs, Abs, Abs Abs, Abs, Abs Pictures of Core Exercises

Want a toned stomach or a winning tennis game? WebMD's pictures show 11 off-balance core exercises to help get you there.

Video: Yoga for Toning Core

These three yoga poses can help you increase tone and flexibility for your entire body.

Fuel Your Body

Forget gimmicky diets with empty promises. For a healthy, trimmer body, get the right fuel – good nutrition, sans junk food or excess food. Build muscle, not fat.

What to Drink When You Exercise

The options include sports drinks, energy drinks, and just regular water.

Good Sources of Protein

Protein can help you shed those unwanted pounds and keep your belly full. But it's important to eat the right amount and the right kind of protein to get the health benefits.

Hydration Drinks

Outdoor activity is a great way to put the fun into fitness -- but it requires paying special attention to hydration.

Hydration Quiz

Find out how much you know about hydration.

Expert Help

We’ve assembled experts to guide the way – personal fitness trainers, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, medical experts, and more. Learn from their wisdom.

The Experts’ Corner The Experts’ Corner 10 Workout Secrets: Expert Exercise Tips

For many of us, it's hard enough just to get up off the couch. So what's the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?

Resources Resources Health & Fitness: Resources

Get the exercise and fitness resources you are looking for here.

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

-
Beats
PER
Seconds

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

-
Beats
PER
Seconds