Morning Rounds: How much exercise do we need to stay healthy?

NORFOLK, Va. - We know exercise is good for us, but how much do we need to improve our health?  News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light is weighing in on the benefits of working out.

"Regular exercise is the fountain of youth," said Dr. Light.  "Exercise will increase muscle mass, which decreases the risk of falls. It also decreases the risk of dementia, and helps with preventing chronic disease such as hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes."

He added, "Exercise increases the release of hormones which can actually elevate mood. Exercise combined with a well balanced diet will add years to your life."

Dr. Light said the current recommendation is to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times a week.

"This will decrease the risk of strokes and heart attacks," he explained.  "Additionally, benefits are seen when weightlifting is incorporated to maintain muscle mass.  Exercising 150 minutes per week will increase life expectancy by approximately five years."

He also warned against exercising too much.

"Overuse injuries such as stress fractures, joint pain, and tendinitis can result when over exercising," he said.  "Warm up, cool down and a balanced exercise routine greatly decrease the risk of injury. Pain is the body's form of communication to signal when too much exercise is occurring."