I get asked this question a lot at 5focus: how many times per week should I work out?  As with most things, it depends on what your goal is.

The USDA recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5-7 days per week.  The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, which is essentially the same thing (30 minutes x 5 days per week).  The CDC also recommends strength training two times weekly; we’ll talk more about types of exercise below.  Both of these recommendations are only for prevention of chronic disease, such as heart disease or diabetes.

For weight loss, most research shows that 60-90 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every single day is necessary.  Research also shows that doing short bouts of exercise multiple times throughout the day is just as effective as doing it all at once.  If you feel like you can’t commit to 60 minutes at once, split it up into 10- or 20-minute workouts and spread it throughout your day.

A well-balanced exercise routine consists of three components:  aerobic activity, resistance training, and stretching.  Let’s talk about why each one is important!

Aerobic activity is vital for a strong heart and lungs.  Aerobic exercise is anything that gets your heart rate up, increases your breathing rate, and elevates your core temperature (makes you a little sweaty).  This could include jogging, hiking, dance- there are a lot of possibilities.

Resistance training is necessary for joint and bone health.  It involves adding some sort of resistance in addition to your body weight in order to strengthen your muscles.  This could include weight lifting, resistance band training, or swimming.

Stretching is essential to prevent injury during other types of activities.  It could involve either a stretching routine or a yoga class.  Stretches need to be held for 1-2 minutes to have any sort of meaningful effect.

I forgot a fourth component to a healthy exercise routine: having fun!  Whatever you do to maintain your physical health, make sure it’s something you enjoy.

I wrote an article on my old blog that gives guidelines for choosing an exercise activity that’s right for you, check it out here.

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