Secrets of Successful Exercisers Revealed
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.
Researchers found walking was by far the most popular form of physical
activity among successful exercisers. In addition, two-thirds of hard-core
exercisers walked at least three days a week.
When asked how they fit physical activity into their hectic schedules and
stuck to their routines, successful exercisers offered this advice:
- Get out of your car. Many said they walked or bicycled
regularly to work. Others arranged their lives so that they could do errands on
foot regularly, such as living within walking distance of a grocery store.
- Find activities you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stick
to a routine if you enjoy it. More than half of successful exercisers said they
usually or always got "a feeling of joy or exhilaration" from their
- Find time to exercise. Successful exercisers recommend
working out at the same time of the day, finding a convenient location to
exercise, and planning ahead to schedule workouts.
- Use weights. Successful exercisers of all ages were 10
times more likely to use free weights to build muscle strength than those who
didn't exercise regularly.
When starting an exercise program, researchers say it's important to start
slowly, and then gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout.
But the good news is that the survey results also show that once people get
into the exercise habit, they naturally gravitate toward longer, more strenuous