In the struggle to keep up with your job, family obligations, and rest, many people find it hard to make time to work out. This is a shame, because the health benefits of regular exercise are numerous – better heart health, a trimmer waistline, and better mood control, just to name a few.
So how often should you work out? According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average adult needs at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise on a weekly basis, combined with a recommended two days of full-body strength training per week. Keep in mind that these suggested times are the CDC’s absolute minimum – going beyond them can be even better for you.
But really, how much exercise is enough to satisfy your body’s demand? It depends on a few things. Someone interested in losing weight may need to work out more often than someone who just wants to maintain circulatory health. Someone who works a physically demanding job probably doesn’t need the kind of structured workouts that a person who sits at a desk most of the day needs. Here are some guidelines to help plan your exercise time wisely.
More Workouts in Less Time
If you choose to take the CDC’s recommendations to heart when scheduling your workouts, you’ll be presented with a choice. Is it best to work out once or twice a week for longer sessions, or to exercise more often, cutting each session into a smaller chunks? Experts mostly agree that the latter option is much preferred.
Perhaps the easiest way to reach 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week (even when you’re super busy!) is to divide the time into five 30-minute sessions. You can do this Monday through Friday, Wednesday through Sunday, or split it up however you like, with your rest days spread out. But don’t forget to add those two strength-training workouts! You can do so by lifting weights after your cardio workout(s), or you can do muscle-strengthening exercises on your aerobic off-days.
How Much Is Too Much?
Is it possible to work out too much? Definitely. Bodybuilders often refer to the phenomenon of overtraining, which occurs when the central nervous system is too taxed from marathon weightlifting sessions. While overtraining is a real thing, the average person looking to lose weight and improve their fitness doesn’t need to worry about reaching that limit. What you do need to worry about, however, is preventing injury. Listen to your body, and learn the difference between the pain of injury and the discomfort of training. Take a day off when you need it – your body will thank you later.
Scheduling Your Workouts
One of the most common questions posed to fitness experts is “When should I work out?” Some experts advocate getting exercise done first thing in the morning, while others claim that the body is at its physical peak in the afternoon. Meanwhile, plenty of people prefer exercising at night.
The best solution is simply to work out when you have the time. If you have a spare 20 minutes in the morning, get your workout done before you go to work. If you feel better working out in the afternoon or at night, do it then. If there are minor disadvantages to exercising at a particular time, take comfort in knowing they are outweighed by consistency.
Enjoy Your Physical Fitness
While it’s nice to have some guidelines regarding exercise, fitness, and workout frequency, try not to intellectualize it too much. The main key in reaching your fitness goals is to enjoy your workouts. Learn to take pleasure in hitting the gym, or find other ways of working out that are less rigid and defined. When you’re able to see exercise as something you want to do rather than something you have to do, you’ll be able to make lasting changes to your overall health.
What’s your workout schedule usually look like? Let us know in the comments.