You know you should regularly exercise to live a long, healthy life. But how much should you be exercising, and how often? You can find a lot of information about exercise from the web or from your friends, but a lot of the time, most of that information is conflicting. Should you be working out for an hour a day or 30 minutes a day? And what about those commercials that claim their equipment will get you in shape after only 15 minutes a day?
The truth is, how much you should be exercising really depends on your fitness goals. Are you just looking to be healthy? Do you want to lose weight? Are you trying to gain muscle? The first step in determining how much you should be exercising is by setting a goal and starting at your own pace to get into the groove of things.
To make it easier for you, here is a general guideline of how much you should be exercising. Of course, these are just general rules for most adults without any health conditions. You should always check with your doctor first before determining a fitness routine that is right for you.
If your goal is to live a healthy life and reduce your risk for disease, the American Heart Association suggests that adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. This can also be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
150 minutes of moderate exercise calls for 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days of the week. If your workout routine is mainly vigorous exercise, you can still get most of the health benefits with just 75 minutes a week. However, adults should aim to be active daily and minimize the amount of time spent sitting to achieve all of the physical and mental benefits of an active lifestyle.
So, it probably helps to know if your exercise routine qualifies as moderate or vigorous exercise. Let’s break that down:
Moderate exercise. This type of activity requires a moderate amount of effort and noticeably accelerates your heart rate. Your breathing should quicken, but you shouldn’t feel completely out of breath. A good rule of thumb is that you can hold a conversation, but you shouldn’t be able to sing during a moderate-intensity workout. Some examples of moderate exercise include:
- A brisk walk (walking 4 mph+)
- Mowing the lawn
- Bicycling (slower than 10 mph)
- Water aerobics
- Tennis (doubles)
- Hiking (low to moderate intensity)
- Recreational sports
Vigorous exercise. This type of activity requires a large amount of effort and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in your heart rate. You should break a sweat after a few minutes, and you shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words at a time without pausing for a breath. Examples of vigorous exercise include:
- Jogging or running
- Swimming laps
- Tennis (singles)
- Bicycling (10 mph+)
- Jumping rope
- Walking/hiking briskly uphill
- Circuit weight training
- Competitive sports
If your goal is to lose weight, you should aim for about 300 minutes of exercise a week, according to Mayo Clinic. For most people, this means an hour workout, five times a week. This amount of exercise will also help you maximize on all of the health benefits of regular exercise.
For best results when it comes to weight loss, you should meet with a personal trainer to determine the proper intensity of your workouts. While walking, for example, is a great form of exercise, 300 minutes of walking a week may not yield the results you are looking for. Meeting with your doctor and a personal trainer will help you figure out how to put those 300 minutes a week to its best use.
No matter how much you exercise, remember that consistency is key. Try to create a workout schedule that you can easily stick with. Whether its 150 or 300 minutes a week, your body and mind will thank you for it!
What helps you stick with an exercise routine while living a busy life? Tell us below!
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