Paul Williams, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has put together the world's largest study on runners with more than 100,000 participants. His desire was to determine at what amount of exercise will there health benefits no longer continue. He came to the conclusion that more exercise is always better. His study is one of relatively few of its kind because most studies focus on how much minimum exercise is needed to start seeing health benefits intended for obese or sedentary people. This study is looking to provide already active or very active people with more information. In his study, Williams has found that health improvements continue with increased exercise for people who run up to 100 miles per week. He is not recommending that everyone should run this much each week, but trying to further demonstrate his point that you can't really exercise too much. Also, with increased frequency, length, and intensity of workouts, health improvements will continue to follow. His study specifically found health benefits in preventing heart disease and stroke as well as vision improvements. Currently, Williams is looking to connect the benefits to cancer prevention.
This idea of health benefits from exercise is not new, and countless studies have found results to support this. One study conducted by Donhoffer and Chan relates to Williams' research by looking to answer the question how much exercise is good? This study agreed with Williams' results with finings showing that people who perform vigorous activity for 20 minutes, three times a week will continue to see health improvements and should look to do even more. It also stated that people who are not currently active should start by adding in a few minutes of moderate activity each day and work up to at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. In addition to aerobic workouts, results showed that flexibility and strength components should also be incorporated 4 to 7 and 2 to 3 times a week respectively. Donhoffer and Chan also found, along with many other studies, that mental benefits accompany the physical benefits of exercise. These benefits include reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion, as well as improved cognitive functioning, and sense of well-being. In regards to seeing mental health benefits from exercise, the study found that benefits continued to increase with up to 20 minutes of exercise each day, but stayed constant after this point.
After seeing the results of these studies, it is clear that exercise should be a part of everyone's daily life. People who are currently inactive should adopt a light exercise regimen and continue to steadily increase intensity, duration, and frequency. For people who currently are active, it is helpful to learn that a person can't really be too active. I think that people who already perform a steady workout program will begin to look to do even more. Knowing that increased health benefits come with increased exercise is a great idea to motivate people to continue to improve their workouts in the future.
Allday, Erin. "More Exercise Better in Long Run, Study Finds." San Francisco Chronicle February 2010.
Donhoffer, H.A., Chan, L. How much exercise is good? Wellness Options 2007; 30: 30.