Article by Andrew Sartory, Functional Health and Wellness Advisor
This is a question a lot of people have - how much do I need to exercise?
Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?
And how much is too much?
Do you need to sweat it out for an hour or more every day?
You might be surprised at the answer. So many people don’t exercise at all because they think they have to follow tough, complex plans or go to the gym to get results - but that’s not true!
Most people aren’t training to be triathletes or compete in bodybuilding competitions - so most people don’t have to train like that.
Let’s go over the ideal amounts for getting into shape and feeling good in your body, starting with the minimum.
What’s The Minimum Amount Of Exercise?
First, you have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there's no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, out too much pressure on you and cause you to give up.
So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend “ten to twenty minutes every other day at a level you can easily do?” And yes, going for a brisk walk counts. How does that sound as a starting point?
Pretty do-able, right?
Because you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this plan!
It might feel longer at first, but when you get over that initial hump and get started, you’ll find that it’ll become easier and easier over time!
How would you like to look back, 3 or 6 months from now and feel great about the progress you made, by starting nice and easy with just 10 to 20 minutes every other day?
It's one of the best feelings ever for my clients!
So if you’re not active now, you’ll get amazing benefits by starting with the bare minimum.
(I actually LOVE working with people who are starting out with zero exercise - because it’s so easy for them to get started with something simple and they get BIG results, FAST!)
Remember, a ten to fifteen minute brisk walk is infinitely better than not trying at all.
Ideal Targets For Maximum Benefits
Once you’ve established a solid pattern for exercise, research has shown that you’ll get the maximum benefits from completing either of these options each week.
Just remember to not overdo it - or you’ll put more stress on your body than benefits.
The ‘benefits’ here include:
Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).
Always consider what's reasonable and sustainable for you, based on:
As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it’ll start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go.
Every few weeks, do something to push yourself a bit farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition or grab the next heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, faster, or at a higher treadmill incline.
It’s very normal to feel some discomfort as you work on making progress (and to sweat a little!).
However, if you’re feeling completely exhausted and wiped out after your exercise, then that’s a sign you may have pushed too hard. I don’t recommend this unless you’re in great shape already and are training for a major event or competition.
A great motivational tool is to track your workouts.
A simple notepad or workbook (or app) will do! Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep motivated to continue, but will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.
After several weeks you can stop and evaluate. Keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you’ll find yourself getting stronger, and more fit!
Don't Forget Your Nutrition
While exercise is very important for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.
Some of my favorite super-simple tips that give you the biggest “bang for your buck” are:
You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into great shape. I promise!
In fact, one of my clients, at 59 years old, lost over 40 pounds in 6 months and greatly improved her strength and fitness levels. Her secret?
Jumping and moving on a mini trampoline to her favorite music.
She began at 185 pounds, with no exercise in years. And since she had asthma, she could only start with 3 minutes per day (one song). That also allowed her to slowly build confidence that she could make it into a habit!
Now she’s up to two 20 minutes sessions, five days per week! (Total of 40 minutes, five days per week).
While she also worked on her diet, sleep and stress, she credits her mini-trampoline (only $45 from a local store!) to about half of her success - and again, she began with just 3 minutes each day and never pushed herself to the point of exhaustion!
There are great rebounders for every budget, depending on the quality you want. Below are two great examples.
Yes - profound results from exercise can be that simple! It doesn’t have to be complicated!
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