It’s an age-old question: How many times a week should I be exercising?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic number or simple formula to find the answer. Just like with food, the concept of bio-individuality applies to exercise, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Aside from what feels best for your body, there are a number of factors to consider when developing a workout regimen. One important question to ask is, Why am I working out?
People exercise for many reasons – to stay healthy, clear their mind, lose weight, tone up, or maintain overall health, to name a few. Your most effective workout routine will depend on your motivation as well as the results you’re looking for.
Whatever your reasons, there are some baselines regarding how often you should exercise.
According to the American Heart Association, it’s important to be physically active to prevent heart disease (the number one killer in the United States) and stroke (number five).
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week to improve cardiovascular health. An easy way to achieve that is to exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The American Heart Association also advises incorporating at least two days of moderate- to high-intensity strength training each week for additional health benefits.
So what about those “rest” days? Many health and wellness experts propose that you should move your body every single day. With so many of us spending upwards of eight hours sitting at a desk, it’s important to make an effort to be active every day, even if you can’t make it to the gym. Going for a lunchtime walk, taking the stairs, or getting off the train or bus one stop early are all great ways to get in some extra steps.
If you’re looking to rev up your workout routine, here are some helpful tips:
Plan your workouts at the beginning of the week. If you make a plan for which days you’ll get active, you’re less likely to skip the gym. Develop an exercise routine to keep you motivated and hitting your goals each week.
Recruit a buddy. If you commit to working out with a friend, you probably won’t opt for your couch instead! This is also a great way to catch up and socialize while sticking to healthy habits.
Find something you enjoy. You’re much more likely to get out of bed for an early workout or put in time at the end of the day if you’re doing something you truly enjoy. Finding a workout you love may take some effort, but you will look forward to your time at the gym.
Listen to your body. Pay attention to what your body needs, whether it’s an extra rest day or a long outdoor run instead of hitting the weights. Don’t be afraid to stray from your schedule to give your body a little extra TLC.
Be kind to yourself. As with any routine or habit, we all get off course at times. Bounce back after a vacation, an indulgent meal, or a busy week, and remember tomorrow is a new day to work toward your goals.