How much exercise do you actually need to be “healthy?” The answer is not what you think

More movement is always good for you. But figuring out what physical activity counts as beneficial can get a little hairy.

No matter what you do, the key is consistency.

Reclaiming a healthy lifestyle after two years of lockdown can seem like a daunting task. And while a good pair of Nikes or a pricey Peloton might seem like the clear ticket to improve your physical health, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your wallet. Achieving good physical fitness is simpler than you might think.

The key is movement. Of course, that sounds like a no-brainer: Logically, more movement has to be good for you. But figuring out what physical activity counts as beneficial can get a little hairy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average adult should observe a minimum of 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity” or 75 minutes of “vigorous-intensity aerobic activity” each week. This could be brisk walking, jogging, or running, activities we readily associate with exercise and are typically center-stage of the fitness sphere. But are those the only ways to achieve fitness? Are alternative forms just as impactful as traditional cardio and do you necessarily need 150 minutes a week?

To answer that question, says Melissa Bopp, an associate professor of kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University, we need to establish that while physical activity and exercise overlap, they aren’t necessarily the same.

“Physical activity would be any kind of bodily movement that increases your energy expenditure beyond the resting level,” Bopp tells Inverse. It comes in four domains: occupational with work-related activities like walking, lifting, or carrying; domestic with housework, yardwork, and childcare; transportation like bicycling or climbing the stairs, and leisure time, which involves more structured, repetitive exercise but also volunteer work and even hobbies.

Building Legos may not exactly rev up your heart, burn fat, or build muscle but experts say getting your body to engage in some physical activity, regardless of type, is far better than nothing at all.