Most of us know that moderate exercise is good for us. But surprisingly few of us know what moderate exercise means, research shows. An instructive new study found that many of us underestimate how hard we should exercise to achieve maximum health benefits, and overestimate how vigorously we are actually working out.

It’s been six years since the federal government published exercise guidelines for adults. Straightforward and flexible, they recommend that adults complete 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Either prolonged sessions or multiple, shorter workouts are O.K., and the form is never specified. Jog, cycle, swim, walk, do tai chi, rake leaves or jump rope — any activity is fine, the recommendations suggest, as long as you reach and maintain the specified intensity.


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