Exercise is healthy, to a degree. Regular physical activity is better than occasional all-out workouts.

“A lot of people go way overboard with exercise,” said Ingo Froboese, a professor at the Health Centre of the German Sport University in Cologne. In today’s society, he said, there are many people who “push the envelope,” that is, who use — and abuse — exercise to reach or even exceed limits.

“If you look at the evolution of recommended physical activity, ten or 15 years ago we were on the trip: It’s got to be intensive exercise three times a week,” he said, adding that experts were now distancing themselves from such advice. “It’s known that 75 per cent of the people can’t be persuaded to exercise. They’re not interested. For them, physical activity is a strain and they don’t want it.”

Froboese said it was now recommended that a person be physically active at least five times a week for 30 minutes. This activity need not be understood as formal exercise, but can be, for instance, cycling to work, taking an afternoon walk, doing gardening work, or performing “desk stretches” at the office.

“This, too, is physical activity, and a body cell doesn’t really know if I’m in the woods with Nordic walking poles or simply cycling to work,” Froboese said, adding that the cell only knows that it has to generate energy.

“It’s the same with everything: the dose makes the poison,” Froboese said. “Listen to your body and never forget to take an occasional break.” Froboese added.

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