Especially if a regular exercise routine is new to you, you may be wondering if there’s a certain amount of time you should be spending breaking a sweat every day, (in order to get maximum health benefits). Or, if your goal is to shed pounds, you may be stressing over whether or not you’re doing “enough” when it comes to your workouts.
But, what is “enough,” exactly? The answer actually has much more to do with an all-around healthy lifestyle (including a healthy diet), then it does to any set amount of time getting physical. Plus, your workouts are going to vary based on your personal preferences and time commitments – and that’s okay. Exercise is not one size fits all!
In this article, we’re going to cover some of the main points when it comes to how much physical activity you should do (especially for weight loss). And we’re going to help calm your fears that you aren’t doing enough; Because if you’re being active in any way, you should already be patting yourself on the back!
How Long Should I Exercise?
When it comes to how long you should be working out each week, it depends on your individual goals. Let’s first look at what’s recommended, but then we’ll look at how you can make adjustments to fit your schedule.
If your main goal is simply to reap the health benefits of regular exercise, the American Heart Association recommends you do 75-150 minutes of aerobic activity each week along with two strength training sessions (of a reasonable length).
While aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart pumping (brisk walking, running, swimming, biking, etc.), strength training is anything that helps your body build muscle. Many people think this means weights, but it can be much simpler than that… We’ll go into that a bit more later.
But first, what if you want to lose weight? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a bit more physical activity for that goal – suggesting you exercise about 150 to 250 minutes per week. This breaks down to about 40 minutes per day, which definitely seems like a lot, and may not be possible for everyone. So, is it really necessary?
The truth is, having variety in your workouts, (doing some longer and some shorter days), can help you stick with working out for the long-run – and also ensures you don’t get bored. And if you only have 15 minutes or less, research shows that you can actually get a killer workout in, in just that short time period!
The Case For Shorter Workouts
The truth is, sometimes it’s not the length of the workout, but the intensity that makes the difference. You’ve probably heard of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), which is a very intense workout you do in a short amount of time. How short? About 4 -15 minutes for many of the workouts. Intrigued? Let’s learn more.
Research shows that these shorter, quick bursts of physical activity are not only as effective as ones that take 2-3 times as long, but they may actually help you burn even more calories than regular aerobic activity and strength training.
In a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, men who did just 13 minutes of HIIT burned more calories per minute than those who did regular cardio for 40 minutes! In another study out of Southern Illinois University, people who did just 11 minutes of strength training, 3 days a week, increased their resting metabolic rate (or the calories they burn when they aren’t doing anything), and fat-burning enough to keep weight gain away.
What Type of Exercise Should I Do?
Along with how long you should work out, another thing you’re probably wondering is what type of workouts you should do. This really depends on what you like to do, as aerobic and strength training activities can look much different than you may think. You do not have to stay on a treadmill or lift weights to get the benefits!
In fact, the HIIT workouts we’ve been talking about typically use just your body weight to help you build lean muscle. And you don’t even need to be in a gym to do them… there are plenty of effective workouts you can do right from the comfort of your own home.
There are also plenty of at-home, simple gym equipment tools you can use to get the calories burning, no gym membership required. Of course, if the gym is your thing, that’s great, but it doesn’t have to be.
Along With Working Out, Watch Your Diet
No matter how long you decide to work out and what exercises you decide to do, the most important thing to remember is especially when it comes to weight loss, exercise is not going to shed the pounds on its own. If you aren’t eating a clean, healthy diet, your workouts probably aren’t going to do very much for you in terms of weight loss.
No matter what type of physical activity you do, it all comes down to energy (or calories) in and energy out. You have to burn off more calories than you eat, and that means you need to make healthy choices.
In addition, you need to look at food as fuel. The right foods can positively affect your energy levels, mood, motivation, focus, and stamina. And, in the same way, the wrong foods can be debilitating when it comes to your goals.
So, if you’re going to focus on anything first, it needs to be your diet! Then, you can add in exercise, and you’re likely to be much more successful in sticking with it.
Pro Tip: Use Meal Replacement Shakes
Finally, when it comes to a healthy diet, and having the energy to do your best workouts, meal replacement shakes can be an incredible tool. Packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and superfoods, the right shakes can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Plus, you can drink one before a workout for the perfect fuel or after a workout to assist with muscle recovery and building lean muscle. They’re completely versatile when it comes to what they can do for you – and they can help you meet and exceed your goals.
So, what’s the bottom line? Eat right, drink power-packed protein shakes, and get moving… Whether you choose a longer workout such as a run, or a short but intense workout in your living room, getting active is one of the best things you can do for your body. And when you focus on living an all-around healthy lifestyle (diet included), you’ll likely feel your best 24/7.