How many days a week should I exercise? The question sounds simple enough, but the answer can be involved. Ultimately, the right response is six days a week, but there are different levels of exercise, and that’s where it gets complicated.
There are standardized guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. These agencies break exercise down into two categories:
- Strength training
They recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise. If you are in good health, try 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise like running, instead. Moderate aerobic exercise would be a brisk walk instead of a run. When it comes to strength training, your goal should be to exercise all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Other Factors to Consider
Why you exercise matters, as well. For some, the goal is weight loss, but others stay active just for good health. If you are an exercise veteran or athlete, you might train more often than someone not used to the extra activity
If new to working out, see your doctor before you begin. It’s vital that you choose an exercise level that matches your overall health.
Get started by writing down your workout schedule and including a list of your personal goals. Putting it all down on paper will help keep you on track and build your motivation.
Plan on 30 minutes of cardio three days a week at an appropriate intensity level for you. If weight loss is your goal, as you get stronger increase from 30-minute workouts to 45 or more.
At the same time, plan on working out one or two muscle groups up to four days a week. For example,
- Monday work the upper body
- Tuesday work the lower body
- Wednesday rest
Repeat that two-day cycle with every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday off from weight training.
There are some important rules to consider when getting into an exercise routine:
- Take one full day off from both cardio and strength training to allow your body to rest.
- Listen to your body. Some discomfort might be reasonable, but intense pain is a warning sign that you should stop.
- Mix intensity levels to get a more powerful workout.
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