How Frequent does “Regular Exercise” Need to be

Most people don’t have endless amounts of time to spend in the gym every week. So it is a good thing regular exercise means only spending a minimum of 150 minutes a week doing cardiovascular/aerobic activity along with strength training. You can break that into 30-minute segments done five times a week or 40-minute sessions done 4 times a week.

Your exercise routine should include cardio, lifting weights and stretching, which can be combined or divided into separate sessions. But how much of each should you be doing? Here’s a suggested breakdown:

Cardio Exercise
Doing cardio burns calories and can help you achieve a weight-loss goal. It also keeps your circulatory system working optimally and builds your endurance.

How Often:
Aim to do cardio a minimum of 2 times per week for 30-45 minutes per session.

How to Do It:
The key to cardio is getting your heart beat up and breaking a sweat. Walking can be great but if you are not sweating, you need to pick up your pace. Aerobics, cycling, rollerblading, jogging or swimming are some great options that are sure to get your heart rate up.

Looking for something less mundane than walking or running? Here are some options that will have you sweating in no time (link to Zero Running Weight Loss Exercises).

Weight Training
The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate (or calorie burning ability) will be. Lifting weights also help strengthen joints and bones.

How Often:
Aim to do weights 3 times per week for 30-45 minutes per session. Ideally, you should not do weight training on consecutive days. A recovery day or two allows your muscles to heal and rebuild themselves.

What to Do:
Include upper and lower body exercises to cover all major muscle groups. Be sure to lift weights that are heavy enough to tire the muscles – safe technique is key so consult a trainer or physiotherapist. Incorporate bodyweight moves (e.g. push ups, dips, chin ups, etc.) to challenge your body and increase the calorie burn.

Need some ideas on an exercise routine? Here are 6 great exercises you may have forgotten about.

Don’t Forget to Stretch!
Most people forget about stretching, but it is an important part of your exercise program.

How Often:
At least 2 to 3 times a week ideally after a workout.

How to Do It:
Stretch all major muscle groups after each workout, focusing on the body areas that you just finished exercising. Hold your stretches until the feeling of resistance, then breathe for at least a count of ten before releasing. If you experience pain during a stretch, do not continue that movement – if the pain persists consult a health professional to ensure you’re not injuring yourself. Want to know why you should stretch? Here are 4 reasons (link to stretching article).

Scheduled physical activity that helps you reach the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week can be considered regular exercise. If you’re already active, use the measure of sweating and slight muscle soreness as a marker that your intensity level qualifies as exercise. The more regular you are with exercise the easier it becomes so continue to increase your cardio intensity and move towards lifting heavier weights to challenge your muscles, so you can continue to reap the benefits of regular exercise.

Just starting out? Take it slow with three sessions of 20 minutes each week and build up from there. Never exercised before or are unsure of how to get started? You can make an appointment to see one of our physiotherapists who can help you start exercising regularly – we also offer fitness classes for beginners.

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