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You don’t need to work out for an hour a day to feel good, look great, and get in the best shape of your life.
There’s a common misconception that the incredible benefits of exercise are only available to people who exercise several hours a day.
This just isn’t true. The benefits of exercise are available to everyone — young and old, wealthy and poor, time-rich and time-poor.
It doesn’t take all day, or even an hour a day, to get in the best shape of your life, feel better, and look great. Instead, you just need to follow the Minimum Effective Dose.
Finding the Time to Workout
One of the most misunderstood concepts in the health and fitness industry is time.
- “I don’t have time to work out.”
- “I have a job and a family that need me!”
- “I can barely find time to eat, let alone work out.”
I get it.
With family, work, community events, and now a global pandemic, it’s harder than ever to work out.
However, it doesn’t take all day to get in the best shape of your life. The people that work out for several hours a day are training for a specific race or competition.
They’re athletes preparing for an upcoming season. Or runners training for the next marathon. Or powerlifters training for an upcoming competition. These types of events require hours and hours of exercise to ensure they’re at peak condition come race day.
But for the rest of us, several hours of exercise per day is too much. It’s overkill. Instead, we need to adhere to the Minimum Effective Dose strategy, exercise less, and watch our health skyrocket as a result.
The Minimum Effective Dose
The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is a concept that was popularized in The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris. In it, Ferris describes the MED as “the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.”
What’s the least amount of input (exercise) that’s needed to reach your desired outcome (feel better, look great, get in better shape)?
If your goal is to get healthier, you don’t need to exercise for several hours a day. Instead, you need to make sure you are hitting the Minimum Effective Dose — exercising just enough to meet the recommendations of health experts.
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The Minimum Effective Dose sits gently at the far right side of the green zone. This is immediately before the point of over-exercising, known as the point of diminishing returns. At this point, the more time you spend exercising, the less benefit you actually get from it.
The goal with the MED strategy is to stay in the green zone, making sure you’re doing just enough to meet the MED but not over-exercising.
So, what is my Minimum Effective Dose?
If you’re not an elite athlete training for a specific race or competition, you don’t need to exercise for several hours a day.
Instead, I’m guessing your goals are just to feel better, look great, and get in incredible shape. In this case, the Minimum Effective Dose would be the general exercise recommendation for healthy adults.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Minimum Effective Dose is 30 minutes per day.
“As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.”
The US Department of Health and Human Services seconds this, noting that 150 exercise minutes per week will allow you to experience “substantial health benefits.”
“For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity.”
150 minutes = 30 minutes x 5 days per week
This moderate-intensity exercise can be anything:
- Walking the dog
- Playing with the kids in the yard.
It’s not complicated, and it doesn’t take all day. 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
The goal is to increase your heart rate for a short period through moderate-intensity exercise. The method is unimportant, so long as you enjoy it and can stay consistent.
The minimum amount of exercise needed to reap the incredible benefits of exercise (MED) is 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
Sticking to the MED strategy will help you take back control of your time, feel better, look great, and get in incredible shape.
I got my start in fitness by following this exact strategy. It’s incredibly powerful because it allows you to slowly ease into exercise while experiencing all the same benefits elite athletes do.
It’s been a couple of years since the start of my exercise journey, and I’ve grown a lot.
I’ve run a handful of 5K’s, two half marathons, and two full marathons. And just recently, I recently finished an IRONMAN 70.3 — a long-distance triathlon consisting of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and a 13.1-mile run.
The one thing that has been constant through is the Minimum Effective Dose strategy. When I’m pressed for time, I make sure I exercise for at least 30 minutes to feel great and stay healthy.
30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, that’s all it takes.