If you’re sitting comfortably at home right now after being desk-bound at the office all day, this is your cue to stand up and consider doing something more productive with your otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Now that fitness and wellness have earned newfound interest from the general public, hardly a day goes by without a new study flagging the physical and mental benefits of being more active.

We’re all guilty of leading incredibly busy lives, but contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to dedicate a huge chunk of your day to working out. All you really need is 30 minutes, five times a week.

(RELATED: You may not know this – you’re likely entitled to fitness classes happening all around you, and it won’t cost you a dime.)

Sports physiotherapist Sharon Lim shares this sentiment with dozens of medical studies out there, citing 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activities (MVPA) as a weekly minimum for a significant boost in general health and well-being. The modern conveniences of the 21st century have brought with them health implications such as the “sitting disease”, which sees us spending 10 to 14 hours a day on our butts. The consensus on what constitutes optimal health? No more than four to five hours a day, with the rest of the time being spent walking and moving about. We were, after all, designed to be physically active all day long. 

Devoting 30 minutes each day to physical activity can make significant improvements to both your physical and mental health.

If you’re still skeptical, we’ve done the research to prove the benefits of a mere 150 minutes of MVPA each week. Here are some of the ways it’ll make a huge impact on your life.

For a healthier heart

Turns out, all it takes to make your heart happier in the long run is getting it pumping for 30 minutes a day. Most modern ailments are caused by a sedentary lifestyle, and the effects can add up to an increased risk in diabetes, metabolic syndrome (cholesterol or blood sugar issues, etc.), cardiovascular diseases or stroke. Regular activity has the ability to lower your blood pressure while improving cholesterol levels, causing less stress to your most important organ in the long run.

Get a natural high

Regular exercise not only helps us look good, but also feel great.

Pounding the pavement may have been widely recognised to promote all-round physical health and to help you achieve a body worthy of Instagram, but studies have also shown that just 30 minutes of fitness activity a day can be largely beneficial in keeping your brain happy. Exercising releases endorphins — the same chemical that gives you the warm, fuzzy feelings of happiness and euphoria. It’s also been credited for improving overall brain performance, sharpening memory and increasing productivity throughout the day. Besides, we can’t think of a more adrenaline-boosting way to alleviate the stress accrued from work. 

Stay grounded

Some of us may have been born with two left feet, but there is hope yet. Hand-eye coordination and balance are instrumental in our day-to-day lives, and this requires a good control of muscles to carry out tasks without falling over or fumbling with objects throughout the day. Luckily, practice makes perfect, and there’s a wide range of physical activities that helps, ranging from something as simple as jumping rope and yoga, to more competitive sports such as boxing or rock climbing.

Keeps you young, longer

Muscles aren’t the only parts of your body that get stronger with exercise; your bones also get a boost in strength and density with regular physical activity. Aging causes muscle and bone mass degeneration, and one of the best ways to prevent that is by adopting a simple 30-minute regime of exercise five times a week. Weight-bearing exercises (which force you to work against gravity) such as jogging, strength training, and sports (such as tennis) are highly effective in keeping your bones osteoporosis-free. 

Beat the scales

You may not necessarily see a dramatic decrease in weight, but 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day is sufficient to help you maintain a good physique. A jog spanning that duration burns roughly 300 to 355 calories, but if you’re in it to shed the kilos, more vigorous-intensity exercises such jumping rope and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions will fire up your metabolism and burn more than 500 calories per session.

If finding a suitable gym or class to commit to is the biggest hurdle for you, the Health Promotion Board’s latest #MoveIt150 initiative offers a wide range of free activities that makes it a cinch to get active. The initiative expounds on the virtues of clocking in 150 minutes of MVPA a week to combat the negative effects of the modern sedentary lifestyle – while also making it far easier to get started and keep motivated. Besides locations that vary from your favourite park and mall to convenient spots around the Central Business District, the classes are also highly diverse, with options such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga, and circuit training. Refer to this link for the full schedule of free activities.

(This article is presented by the Health Promotion Board.)

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