For some, a 30-minute workout is perfect. For others, a longer gym session is necessary to reach fitness goals. So, how do you know how much exercise you really need? Read on to find out how you can develop a personalized workout plan from Samantha Clayton, OLY, ISSA-CPT, Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness, Herbalife Nutrition.
I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to fitness. We’re all individuals with our own preferences, especially when it comes to getting fit. We each have our own unique body type (unless you’re an identical twin), and we each have different needs and goals. How much exercise you need depends on your overall goal. What may be a good weekly exercise plan for you may not be the best for someone else. Let me guide you to find a nutrition and fitness plan that works best for your own schedule and current fitness level.
How Much Exercise Do We Need?
There are several sources that recommend 150 minutes of weekly exercise (about 30 minutes five times a week) for weight loss and general health. This is classified by moderate to vigorous physical activity. However, let’s say your goal is to run a marathon. In this case, you’ll need to train for a lot longer than 30 minutes at a time. If your goal is to lose weight or improve your overall fitness level, 30 minutes may be all you need.
Invest more time to personalize your workout. Striving to achieve the minimum recommended amount of activity is important for everyone. When you think about it, 30 minutes is a relatively short time commitment, and it’s a very achievable goal. I believe that although a workout time of 30 minutes is adequate for achieving the health benefits associated with exercise, you should attempt to schedule a longer workout. Here’s why:
- Approximately 50-60 minutes per day will allow you to have an additional focus on yourself.
- This extra time could be used for a warm-up and cool-down.
- You won’t have to speed through your workout. Take a breath, stay hydrated, and integrate workout supplements into your plan as needed.
- You could develop a habit of writing in an exercise journal.
- You’ll have more time to prepare a healthy post-exercise snack.
Your weekly exercise plan shouldn’t be something that stresses you out.
It’s counterproductive to have to rush right after your exercise routine. I think it somehow spoils the good mood that performing physical activity can have on your body.
Know Your Limits: Why Over-Exercising Can Be Counterproductive
When it comes to exercise, too much of a good thing can spoil it. Overdoing your workout can be just as harmful as not doing any at all. Here are several reasons why doing too much exercise can set you back:
- Excessive exercise can stall your weight loss goals. Taking your fitness to the extreme may actually slow down your metabolism, and that’s because your body tries to conserve precious energy, causing you to burn fewer calories.
- In addition, maxing out your intensity level without sufficient breaks may stimulate the release of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to weight gain.
- Your muscles need to recover. Exercising promotes small tears in your muscle fibers, and as they heal your muscles grow. Without a sufficient healing period and adequate nutrition, your muscles won’t regenerate properly. Instead, you should set apart time to rest, stretch, and refuel, so your muscles can recover faster.
- Excessive exercise can be bad for your overall health. Severe cases of over-exercising can lead to exhaustion, dehydration, serious injury, and even rhabdomyolysis —a condition that occurs when muscle tissue breaks down and muscle fibers enter your bloodstream, potentially damaging your liver.
How Much Exercise is Too Much?
Restricting your hard workout regimens to 3-4 days a week and allowing a rest day or two is a great idea. You need to be conscious to combine an intense exercise regimen with great nutrition, as well. Learn how proteins, carbs, and fats influence athletic performance. Only you know your body the best, so my advice as always is to pay attention to how your body feels. Push yourself enough, but not to the point of exhaustion.
Develop a Consistent Exercise Plan Each Week
Exercise produces the best results when you’re consistent with your routine. I believe it should be simply part of an overall wellness strategy to improve your life. I encourage you to get active, keep a journal to monitor your minutes, and at the very least meet your healthy active minimum each week. If you’re an avid exerciser, make sure you take time to recover.
Here is my personal workout-rest schedule to give you an idea of how I plan my week:
- Monday: Running and gym, high-intensity level
- Tuesday: Cycling and yoga, moderate-intensity level
- Wednesday: Bodyweight interval training, high-intensity level
- Thursday: Active rest day for fun walk or hiking, low-intensity level
- Friday: Cycling and running, moderate-intensity level but long duration
- Saturday: Active rest for family fun swimming, paddle boarding, low-intensity level
- Sunday: Rest
I usually adjust my intensity level and workout duration to ensure my workout is stress-free and fun.
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