Do you ever wonder, “Am I doing this whole exercise thing right?” While there are many myths—and a lot of marketing schemes—out there, let’s push aside the fluff and the outrageous testimonials and get down to the basics of fitness.
How MUCH should I exercise?
The recommendations for general health include:
- Moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week
- Vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week
- 8–10 strength-training exercises, with 8–12 repetitions of each exercise, 2 days a week
Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60–90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease. There are various ways to determine your exercise intensity.
- Take your heart rate (count the number of times your heart beats in 6 seconds, then add a 0 to determine the approximate number of heart beats per minute).
- The intensity of exercise = % of heart rate max (this is different for everyone).
- Use the rate of perceived exertion (on a scale from 1-10, 6 = moderate, 8 = vigorous, 10 = maximum).
WHEN should I exercise?
- Exercise when you are mostly likely to stick with it! For example, are you a morning person or night owl?
- Exercise when you have the most energy.
- Exercise anytime you can!
HOW should I exercise?
- Do things you enjoy and will continue to do!
- Mix it up—try new things.
- Find ways to push yourself! Set goals to increase your intensity and/or duration!
It’s important to do resistance training and cardio.
Resistance training: 2–4 days/week
- Work large muscles first and mostly (e.g., legs, back, chest, and core).
- For strength, do 6–8 reps; for hypertrophy, do 8–12 reps; and for muscle endurance, do 12–20.
- Circuit training is good for basic health, is time efficient and has cardiovascular benefits.
- Try working multiple muscles at once to be time efficient and involve more muscles.
Cardio exercise: 3–6 days/week
- Aim for 20–60 minutes.
- Include both intervals and long duration.
- Do something you enjoy and that you can challenge yourself with.
Hopefully this information covers what you are already doing. If so…great job! If not…let’s improve! How can you step up your workouts or even get off the couch and get started?!