I know that exercise is important for lots of reasons – it boosts energy, makes the brain work better, releases “happy” hormones, reduces susceptibility to disease. But I’m busy and I can always find an excuse not to put exercise at the top of my priority list.

A recent New York Times article — and, probably, the return of sunshine and sidewalks to New England — recently revived my plans to bring exercise back to my daily routine. So, I’ve been looking for places to budget in more physical activity.

 image credit: shapesense.com

According to Gretchen Reynolds’ “The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life” from last week’s New York Times, new studies on exercise and health were published this week:

They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

That struck me: the sweet spot came for people who worked out moderately for more than an hour per day. Who has time for that? Yikes! The light at the end of the tunnel? This moderate exercise was mostly walking. I don’t know about you, but that little tidbit gave me great hope. Can I devote more than an hour a day to the gym? No way. Can I push myself to walk more than I currently do? Absolutely!