By Michael Roizen, MD, and Mehmet Oz, MD

Think you’re hitting the gym hard? You might not be doing as much as you thought. Turns out people typically overestimate how intensely they’re exercising and lose the benefits of an effective workout.

In a recent study, folks walked or jogged on a treadmill and then were asked if they’d achieved levels of moderate and vigorous exercise. Moderate activity allows you to talk comfortably, but not sing; vigorous activity only allows you to say a few words without pausing for a breath. Three-quarters of folks thought they were putting out moderate effort -- but fell far short of it. Folks overestimated vigorous output too.

To make sure you’re getting an effective workout, talk with your doc about establishing a daily walking routine (aiming for 10,000 steps a day) that you then amp up. The drill: 2-3 times a week, warm up for 5 minutes; walk at your regular pace for 1 minute; walk as fast as you can for 20-30 seconds; then go back to your regular pace for another minute. Repeat that cycle for 20 minutes. Now that’s truly something to brag about!

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