How Much Should You Be Exercising Per Week? Do You Need More?

When building your own personal fitness routine, it’s easy to wonder how much is enough.

Sometimes, the most difficult part of working out is making the time throughout your week. With deadlines, schedules, and responsibilities with family and friends, prioritizing fitness can seem tough. However, making time to exercise is always worth it. It’s important to determine how much time exercising is an adequate amount for each week and whether the amount you are currently doing is sufficient. 

Determining whether you are exercising enough is not exactly black and white. There are numerous factors that can impact the effectiveness of your workouts. These factors include intensity, duration of individual workouts, personal fitness goals, younger vs older adults, and more. From this article, you’ll learn what to consider when determining how much time to devote to your weekly workouts. In addition, you’ll learn the telltale signs that mean you need more exercise in your weekly routine.

Factor 1: Intensity

When it comes to calorie-burning, higher to moderate-intensity exercise will expend more energy in a shorter amount of time than lower intensity forms of physical activity and strength training. This means that you can expend the same amount of energy and burn the same number of calories sprinting for a short time that you could burn running for a longer time. For this reason, the intensity of your workouts is a major determining factor when you are figuring out how long to exercise per day and per week. 

If you prefer lower-intensity exercise like walking, 30 minutes per day can be enough to offer you the health benefits of exercising. Walking and other forms of low-intensity exercise take more time to burn a significant number of calories than higher intensity exercise does. 

However, burning calories is not the only purpose behind daily exercise. Working out in some capacity every day can boost your immunity, heart health, and mood. Ultimately, it is more important in the long run to commit to consistent exercise than to do higher intensity workouts rather than lower intensity ones. 

Nevertheless, the sufficient length for a workout is partially determined by the intensity of your exercise of choice. If you decide to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), lifting weights, aerobic resistance bands, or another high-intensity form of exercise, your workouts may not need to be as frequent or as long as lower intensity workouts. Choosing high-intensity forms of exercise means that you need to factor in time for rest and recovery. 

While lower intensity exercise does not require significant rest time, HIIT, weightlifting, push-ups,  biking, aerobic activity, brisk walking, aerobic exercise, sprints and other high-intensity forms of exercise can leave your body with an increased heart rate and ultimately in need of recovery time. This means you might need to take off days from high-intensity exercise and instead opt to take an easy walk or rest. 

Regardless of your exercise style of choice, the intensity of your workouts can play a role in helping you decide whether you need to spend more time working out throughout the week. A good rule of thumb is that the lower the intensity, the longer your workouts should be and the less rest time you need. Conversely, the higher the intensity, the shorter your workouts should be and the longer your recovery time will need to be.

Factor 2: Duration

As you just learned, some workouts mean less time to reap the benefits of exercising. If you prefer lower intensity forms of exercise, you will need to make time for more workouts throughout the week to get the most out of your exercise routine. On the other hand, choosing higher intensity forms of exercise can save you some time in the long run. Since high-intensity workouts do not need to be as long, they are a great option for anyone struggling to make time for a consistent fitness routine. 

If you choose a low-intensity form of exercise like walking, try to commit to at least thirty minutes a day. In addition, don’t be afraid to do more! Luckily, low-intensity exercise doesn’t need much recovery time, so you can include more of it without risking exhaustion or injury. 

Factor 3: Your Goals

Are you trying to reach peak performance as an athlete? 

Looking to build a significant amount of muscle in the major muscle groups or rapidly lose body weight? If so, your weekly time requirements for working out will differ from those of the average person. 

Major fitness goals mean that you need to prioritize workouts, nutrition and rest. In addition, as any professional athlete will tell you, at a certain point life becomes built around your workout routine as opposed to the other way around. To reach certain goals, much more than the bare minimum amount of moderate exercise is required.

When deciding how many times you need to work out each week and determining the duration of your workouts, take your personal fitness goals into account. If you are simply looking to stay healthy and reap the benefits of daily exercise, you won’t need more than thirty minutes of exercise or daily low-impact cardio to get there. However, if you are looking to change your physique or are training for a competition or sport, you will need to put more thought and intention into your workout plan. 

Planning to achieve more serious fitness goals means scheduling specific types of exercise in specific amounts throughout each week. If your goal is to build muscle and lose fat, you will need to commit to working out individual muscle groups separately throughout the week, allowing yourself time to rest.

If you are specifically aiming for weight loss, the amount of exercise you need to reach your goals will partially depend on the quality of your diet. When trying to lose weight, nutrition is just as important as maintaining a workout regimen. Sometimes, longer workouts may not be as crucial in your weight-loss efforts as cutting out junk food and monitoring overall calorie intake. 

Factor 4: Age

As humans age, our metabolisms naturally slow down. This means your body is typically burning less calories when you are at rest at age thirty than when you were thirteen. Maintaining a healthy weight at a younger age is often easier due to having a naturally higher metabolism.

For many so-called “skinny kids” transitioning into adulthood, one of the most difficult adjustments to make is realizing that you need to watch what you eat and be consistent with exercising in order to stay healthy. This is an unfortunate aspect of growing up – as we age, our bodies need more careful maintenance. In addition, reaching later adulthood often means that vigorous-intensity exercise is more strenuous and difficult than it was in your younger years. For these reasons, age plays a major factor in determining how, and how much, to exercise. 

Maintaining consistency with exercising is valuable no matter what your age is. However, at different stages in life, more exercise may be necessary to maintain a healthy weight, boost immunity, and improve your mood. Depending on your overall health, higher amounts of exercise may be recommended to you by your doctor. If you are dealing with persistent health issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease, struggling to lose weight, or feeling fatigued, your doctor can help you construct a personalized exercise plan that fits your age-specific needs. 

When Do You Need More Exercise?

If you are struggling to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day, not getting high-quality sleep, or dealing with stress, anger or anxiety, upping your exercise routine can help. If you aren’t working out consistently at all, now is as good a time as any to start! Exercising daily is a great way to significantly improve your overall health. 

Anyone can benefit from introducing daily exercise into their lives. However, determining whether you need more exercise gets a little complicated when you are already working out on a daily basis. In situations where you are reaching a standstill in progress towards your fitness goals, also known as a plateau, upping the intensity of your workouts may be more important than increasing their frequency or duration. When dealing with a plateau, working out more is not always as effective as working out smarter. As you learned earlier, the intensity of your workouts is often just as important as how often you exercise. 

When you’re trying to decide whether to work out more, work out more intensely, or a combination of the two, take the recommended amount of time to assess where you are at in your fitness journey. If you are struggling to see results even with consistent workouts the majority of the days of the week, it may be time to shake things up a bit. Instead of working out longer or more often, try boosting the intensity of your workouts and see how the change affects your progress. This shift can look different depending on your exercise routine of choice. It might mean adding more weight to your muscle-strengthening activities or committing to working muscle groups that you have neglected (leg day, anyone?). Progressing in fitness is all about finding new ways to challenge and push yourself. It takes discipline and hard work, but it’s worth it. 

Sources:

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/10/18148463/high-intensity-interval-training-hiit-orangetheory

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-walking-most-underrated-form-exercise-ncna797271

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health

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