How Much Exercise Do I Need to Do to Get Results?

One of the things that I ask prospective clients during their initial consultation or fitness assessment is how much time they are willing to devote to their exercise program? This isn’t how often they’re going to meet with me; this is how often they are actually going to engage in meaningful physical activity appropriate for their goals and current fitness level. Very few of them realize how much exercise they need to do to even meet the minimum standards, much less accomplish their health and fitness goals (which typically requires much more than that). So, how much exercise is actually enough?

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How Much Exercise is Enough?

The American College of Sports Medicine publishes physical activity guidelines based on peer reviewed research and contends that most Americans do not get enough exercise during their activities of daily living.

For aerobic or cardiovascular activity, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. This goal can be met by 30-60 minutes of moderate activity 5 days per week, or 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week. For sedentary folks just starting out, that may be too much at first, so you’ll need to start where you can and gradually build up your endurance. Try for at least 10 continuous minutes if possible.

Adults should engage in strength training a minimum of 2 non-consecutive days per week; 3 days is better. Resistance exercises should target all major muscle groups of the body. Resistance intensity as well as how many sets and reps depend on the goals and abilities of the individual.

Flexibility exercises can be done daily if needed, but should be done at least 2-3 times per week. The type of stretch: static, PNF, active – isolated, etc. depends on the goals and skill of the individual.

Neuromuscular or balance exercises should be done 2-3 times per week for 20-30 minutes. Examples include tai chi, some forms of yoga, and other functional exercises. I give many of my clients specific balance training exercises, especially older adults and post rehab athletes.

Remember, these guidelines are the minimum amount of exercise, not necessarily the optimal amount. For those trying to lose fat, build muscle, or improve sport specific performance, exercise recommendations are likely to be greater.

How Much Exercise is Too Much?

While it’s important to get enough of the right types of exercise to improve and maintain health or achieve athletic goals, more exercise isn’t always better. Overtraining can result in overuse injuries, repetitive stress, and hormonal imbalances that lead to insomnia, weight gain, poor performance, fatigue, and more. The difficult thing is that most people don’t know they’ve overdone it until it’s too late. People most likely to fall into this category are athletes, weekend warriors, and those with disordered eating or exercise obsession.

How Much Exercise is Just Right for You?

I can’t answer that question without doing a fitness assessment and having a discussion with you about your health and fitness goals. There are lots of variables and lots of options for every budget. Call me today to get started on a healthier you!

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