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I read a wonderful article many years ago about exercise or fitness points. These were “equivalents” – it took longer walking briskly to earn a point than running or swimming.

Until I find the article or something similar, this is what I recall (and use).
1 point
Swimming laps 12 minutes
Walking briskly 20 minutes (1 mile @ 3 miles per hour)
Hiking
Cycling
Skiing

Good genral fitness 10-15 points

So swimming 24 minutes (2 points) sessions 3-4 days / week and several 20 minute walks (1 point) is enough for general fitness

1 point seems to be 65-90 (MET X time in minutes) using table in this article
MET – metabolic equivalent. One MET is the amount of energy used when sitting quietly.
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/Exercise.htm

could be 1 point = 100 minutes / activity MET – time for a 150 lb person to use 100 calories
Energy requirements of common daily activities*
Leisure activities METs** minutes
Golf (with cart) 2.5 – 40 min
Walking (3 mph) 3.3 – 30 min
Cycling (leisurely) 3.5 – 29 min
Calisthenics (no weight) 4.0 – 25 min
Swimming (slow) 4.5 – 22 min
Walking (4 mph) 4.5

Vigorous

Chopping wood 4.9
Tennis (doubles) 5.0
Ballroom (fast) or square dancing 5.5
Cycling (moderately) 5.7 – 18 min
Skiing (water or downhill) 6.8
Climbing hills (no load) 6.9
Swimming 7.0 – 14 min
Walking (5 mph) 8.0
Jogging (10 min mile) 10.2
Rope skipping 12.0
Squash 12.1

Activities of daily living

Lying quietly 1.0
Sitting; light activity 1.5
Walking from house to car or bus 2.5
Loading/unloading car 3.0
Taking out trash 3.0
Walking the dog 3.0
Household tasks, moderate effort 3.5
Vacuuming 3.5
Lifting items continuously 4.0
Raking lawn 4.0
Gardening (no lifting) 4.4

Moderate intensity exercise “talk test”

The U.S. Surgeon General,(1) along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine,(5) recommend getting a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. You can do all 30 minutes at once or break it up into 10- or 15-minute periods.

Moderate intensity exercise or physical activity is activity that causes a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. One way to gauge moderate activity is with the “talk test” – exercising hard enough to break a sweat but not so hard you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation.
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/Exercise.htm

Institute of Medicine concluded that it takes 60 minutes a day of moderate-intensity activity to maintain a healthy weight.

Successful weight loss maintenance
Among the 3,000 men and women who are part of the National Weight Control Registry, a select club that includes only people who lost more than 30 pounds and kept them off for at least a year, the average participant burns an average of 400 calories per day in physical activity. That’s the equivalent of about an hour of brisk walking.
Annu Rev Nutr 2001; 21:323-41
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11375440&dopt=Abstract

Learn more…

Exercise: The Key To The Good Life
jogging a mile in 8 1/2 minutes burns only 26 more calories than walking a mile in 12 minutes. Conditioning benefits from walking improve dramatically if you increase the pace to faster than 3 miles per hour (20-minute mile). In another study, participants burned an average of 66 calories per mile walking 3 miles per hour, but 124 calories per mile when they increased the pace to 5 miles per hour.
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
http://www.fitness.gov/pepup.htm

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