There’s no getting around it; exercise is essential to good health. A regular fitness routine can decrease your risk for heart attack, stroke, certain cancers, and other serious health issues. But how much time should you spend exercising each week? Any physical activity is a step towards better health, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week and two or more days per week of strength training that work all major muscle groups.
If you’re not a fitness buff or are rarely exercising, 150+ minutes can seem like a large portion of your week and, if you’re like many busy people, it might be difficult to find 150 minutes in the middle of a week packed with social obligations and work. But don’t let this recommendation deter you.
“If you’re intimidated by the idea of a 150-minute workout during the week, break it down into smaller segments,” says Josh Davidson, therapy manager of the Main Line Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Network in West Chester. “Four ten-minute increments of activity or short workouts throughout the day are equally as effective as a 40-minute workout once a day.”
Even if you’re a regular at the gym and find time for fitness, make sure you’re dividing your time and varying up your workouts by doing both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises that work your major muscle groups, like legs, hips, back, arms, and shoulders. Adding some variety to your workouts can help them go faster and might make them more enjoyable, especially if you find an activity that you especially enjoy.
The CDC’s recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise can help you stay healthy and, typically, maintain a healthy weight. But if you’re looking for even greater health benefits and to shed a few pounds, try increasing the amount of time you spend exercising each week or the intensity at which you exercise.
“Your doctor can give you the best advice on how to lose weight, but by increasing the amount of time you spend exercising each week or the intensity at which you are exercising, you can combat weight gain,” says Davidson. “But remember not to let that be the only reason you work out. Exercise to keep your body healthy.”
For weight loss and even greater health benefits, aim to exercise for five hours each week at a moderate level, incorporating aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening techniques. If five hours seems like too much of a time commitment, stick to 150 minutes, but up the intensity of your exercise.
Before you begin any exercise routine, talk to your doctor, who can help you determine what activities and what kind of a time commitment is right for you. To find a Main Line Health doctor in your area, visit our website.