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Myth: Exercising for a longer period of time is always better

Recently, NYC hosted The Color Run, a 5k – everyone wore white and ended up multicolored (with food coloring and corn starch) by the end of the fun run.

TRUTH:  In a recent study of 60 Danish men (who were fit but heavy), the results were clear that after a 3 month period, exercising for 60 minutes does not necessarily mean more weight loss than exercising for 30.  You might be wondering why (I am too) – but there’s probably a simple answer: those who exercised for 60 worked out less intensely because they had to last longer or they may have eaten more.  At the same time, those who were supposed to exercise for 30 may have found that they still had energy at the end of the workout so they did a little extra.

It’s hard to get motivated to begin a workout regimen and the men in this study worked out daily.  Creating the time to do so is important but motivation is key.  Honestly, I was in terrible shape until a couple months ago.  I hadn’t gone on a run or worked out in over 6 months.  Though I hadn’t gained weight, it was evident that I wasn’t in shape.  I began working out 5-6 days per week because I picked activities that I enjoyed and within a month I noticed changes in my body that have motivated me to keep going.

Thinking about the long-term benefits of exercise is not all that motivating.  We’re American!  We want results and we want them now!  But, the short-term benefits are going to motivate you more.  They can be superficial (and there’s nothing wrong with caring about your appearance) – but the greatest motivator is enjoyment.  If you find an exercise that you enjoy, research suggests that you’re much more likely to stick with it!

BOTTOM LINE:  You don’t have to join a gym to be in shape.  Monotonous exercise is out – the trend now is to be active in whatever way you see fit.  If you enjoy what you’re doing for 30 minutes, it could get you to work harder than you would on a treadmill for 60.  Any exercise that gets your heart rate up, even as little as 30 minutes a day can have physical and psychological benefits.  However, as you get in better shape, you’ll need to exercise longer and harder to burn the same number of calories.



  1. New York Times: Changing Our Tune on Exercise
  2. The Telegraph: 30 minutes exercise ‘better than an hour of training’ for weight loss


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