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How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?

Even small amounts of daily exercise deliver important health benefits.

August 30th, 2011

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Fitness Facts

The evidence is growing: Even small amounts of exercise (think 10-15 minutes a day) have powerful health benefits.

A study out of Taiwan found that people who exercised just 15 minutes a day cut their risk of death by 14 percent and extended their life expectancy by three years, compared with those who did no exercise. Each additional 15 minutes of exercise reduced the risk of death by another 4 percent.

And a new mega-study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation found that a person needs far less than the recommended federal guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week to reduce their risk of heart disease.

But how often do you really need to work out to see results?

We asked Certified Personal Trainer Mark Macdonald, author of the best-selling "Body Confidence: Venice Nutrition's 3-Step System That Unlocks Your Body's Full Potential," to shed some light on the latest research -- and to tell us just how little exercise we can get away with.

MM: The reality is that all exercise -- even just one minute -- provides some health benefits. Just 10-15 minutes of exercise strengthens your heart (it is a muscle after all), and keeps it pumping blood like a champ! Your digestive system metabolizes food better, you release excess bloat faster and you're better equipped to burn fat. Exercise also releases feel-good hormones that help enhance mood and reduce stress. A bonus: You'll feel so good, you might find yourself WANTING to exercise longer.

MORE FROM SELF: Lose 8 Pounds in 1 Month

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