Regular exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health | FiveThirtyEight

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Yoni Freedhoff, a family physician and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, has spent years pushing for "detaching exercise from weight loss and reattaching it to health." As he likes to say, regular exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health. Evidence suggests that it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce deaths from heart disease, prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes, improve respiratory fitness in people with asthma, and help with depression, among other things. As many experts have observed, if exercise were a pill, it would be the most beneficial medication on the market. . . .

If you're exercising with the expectation that you'll lose weight, you may be discouraged and tempted to quit when the pounds don't peel off, he said. There is even research suggesting that people who believe obesity is caused by a lack of exercise rather than a poor diet are more likely to be overweight and to eat more.

On the other hand, if your goal is general health, there is plenty of evidence that exercise is effective. Public health groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine, are in consensus: Aim for a minimum of about 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking; 75 per week of more intense exercise, such as running, aerobics or fast cycling; or some combination of the two.

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