In an effort to help harried Americans fit exercise into their hectic lives, new government guidelines released this week recommend slightly more than two hours of physical activity a week to stay fit.
The recommendation tweaks existing guidelines that suggested a daily workout was best.
"Being physically active is one of the most important things Americans of all ages can do to protect and improve their health," said Rear Adm. Penelope Slade Royall, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For most people, all it takes is 2 1/2 hours a week to stay healthy, she noted.
"The previous recommendation for moderate-intensity physical activity was 30 minutes a day five days a week. This is now just one way to meet the minimum guideline," Royall said. "The same health benefits accrue to people who exercise vigorously for half the time."
Being physically active helps reduce the risk of dying early from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression -- and it also helps you think better, according to the guidelines.