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As we head into winter and the holiday season, many people ease up on their exercise programs.

As this ScienCentral News video reports, there are many who do no exercise at all, but may be fooling themselves into thinking that they do.

What is exercise?

For many people the thought of exercise involves joining a gym and worrying about what clothes to wear while pumping iron. Because this may be a deterrent for some, Glen Duncan Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Florida and co-author of a study on the exercise habits of sedentary adults, points out that exercise doesn’t need to be confined to the gym.

But what constitutes enough exercise? According to Duncan, the new recommended amounts are easy enough: "Right now the current recommendations are that individuals should exercise most if not all days of the week for at least 30 minutes per occasion. The intensity of the exercise should be at least moderate intensity; when you think of ’moderate intensity,’ it’s like taking a brisk walk—walking like you are in a hurry or trying to get somewhere quickly."

But there are many daily activities that may also be considered exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives a list of activities, from washing and waxing a car to social dancing, and the suggested amounts of time needed to meet the daily recommended allowances. For instance, you would only have to jump rope for 15 minutes to equal the same amount of exercise you would get in raking leaves for half an hour.

Ideally, you’ll want to be on a solid, regimented exercise program, but Duncan says "the best advice I can offer is that some exercise is better than none. Clearly the idea is to get people who don’t perform activity to do some activity. Once they begin to perform activity, then we can think about specific exercise recommendations."

People should begin exercising slowly, and then build up activity until they reach the level they want.

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