Fitness, Wellness / Self-Care

Debunking the myth of “30 minutes of Exercise per day”

And we thought we were doing enough.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Sep 29, 2022

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably used the myth of “a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day” to excuse couch potato status and lazy habits. But as it turns out, working out for 30 minutes a day may not actually be enough to counter the damage that sitting for prolonged periods of time can inflict on your body.


Apparently, there are active couch potato and sedentary couch potatoes. And there’s a very simple way to figure out which one you are. All you have to do is answer these 2 questions: “Did you work out for 30 minutes today?” and “Did you spend the rest of the day essentially staring at a screen and in a horizontal position?”


If you answered yes to both, then you are officially an active couch potato. This means that even though you meet the alleged requirements of physical activity for a day, you are still at risk for several health issues based on this new study of how people’s movements affect their lives.


The study reveals: “Although sufficiently active, Active couch potatoes had the highest daily sedentary time (>10 hours). Compared to Active couch potatoes, Sedentary light movers, Sedentary exercisers, and Movers spent less time in sedentary by performing more physical activity at light-intensity upward and had favorable differences in their cardiometabolic health markers.”


The study gathered input from upwards of 3,700 women and men in Finland, and found that people who exercised regularly for 30 minutes spent the most time sedentary as opposed to people who didn’t have a strict exercise regimen who generally moved a lot during the day.


This leads us to understand that a simple workout once a day is not actually enough to keep us healthy or counter the effects of prolonged periods of non-activity. In other words, if you exercise once a day for 30 minutes but then do nothing for the rest of your day, it’s as if you’ve done nothing at all.


These new findings are definitely going to change a lot of the way we perceive human activity and behavior. In the past, the World Health Organization and other scientists and experts have advised us to work out moderately for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week, making a brisk walk count as exercise, but that is no longer the reality of the situation.


Our advice is to try to include physical activity throughout your day, whether that means going out for walks several times, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or simply getting up every hour and doing a small physical activity. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that a dedicated 30 minutes of exercise once a day will make you healthy.


If you are sufficiently spooked, get started with versatile exercises you can do at your desk.


Photo via Prostock