The right amount of exercise is a tough thing to find. There’s typically no right or wrong answer, no matter what anyone tells you. However, there are answers from some of the biggest health authorities in the world, and those are the best places you can go for good health advice. After that, it’s a bit of a minefield of information.
To be able to answer the question completely, it’s a good idea to look at the general points and work our way down to the specifics. Let’s do it:
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The first thing we’ll look at to point us in the right direction of how much exercise we should be doing per week, per day and in general, comes from the first point we mentioned. What do some of the biggest health authorities tell us?
The first point of call from the most general perspective is looking at the guidelines for moderate exercise from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
They say 150 minutes per week is the magic number we all need to hit regularly, no matter who we are.
No matter how or why you are training, as long as you hit that sweet spot of exercise, you’re doing it right by your body. Of course, it helps if you get it from solid aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling, but any exercise is good.
When we turn things up a notch from power walking, jogging or light cycling, however, things get deeper still. Since you’re working your body so much harder, it makes sense that we don’t have to work out for quite as long. That opens up a tonne of doors.
The NHS says that once you turn up the heat from moderate exercise to vigorous, the game changes. So much so, in fact, that you can half your workout time. That leaves you with just 75 minutes per week of solid vigorous exercise. Whether it’s HIIT training, running or general long-term cardio, it all works here as long as you get your heart rate high.
So now that we have covered the basics of good health and how much you should exercise on a general level, it’s also a good idea to take a look at how much you need to exercise to reach specific goals. The two may even intertwine perfectly, meaning you don’t have to exercise any more than you already are. You just need to know a bit of extra info behind it.
Let’s start with weight loss. If you’re looking at how much exercise you need to do to lose weight, the answer is not something you’ll like. That’s because there isn’t one. In reality, it all comes down to calories in total—every single day.
To lose weight, you need to make what is called a calorie deficit. That means you are using more calories in a day than you consume. Whether that is from your diet alone or diet and exercise, it doesn’t matter.
The problem with that is that it makes up a lot of variables. There’s no one answer. Even if you go running for an hour a day and burn, say, 500 calories and your maintenance calories are 1500, but you still eat 2200 calories a day, it’s probably not going to help you very much in the long run. That’s because even with exercise, you’re still getting more calories than you can use.
It’s complicated, but that’s how it works (for more info, check out the fundamentals of weight loss)
Totally the opposite of everything we have just said; we need to look at how much you need to exercise if you’re goal is to try and build muscle too. It’s a massively popular fitness goal, after all, and whether you’re bodybuilding or just trying to build muscle mass for your health, it’s good to know this stuff.
Although this isn’t set in stone, just like exercising for weight loss isn’t, there is a bit more of a structure you can follow. Generally speaking, you need to be resistance training with weights or your body weight in a way that will overload your muscles. If it’s hard work, then it’s working (as long as it doesn’t hurt. That’s never good).
Once you’re doing that, you need to make a calorie surplus if you’re trying to pack on mass. That’s consuming more calories than you use in a day, but only slightly. Too many calories will always result in more stored fat and muscle, so bear that in mind. Take it steady and eat smart.
Overall, above all else, your health has to come first. Make sure you try to stick as close to the guidelines from the NHS and WHO as much as possible to benefit your health in general. Besides that, take on board what we have said for the other two fitness goals and make yourself a plan you can follow. Exercise as and when you can, and you’ll soon see all of its benefits to your health.
If you’re struggling to fit in the all-important activity, don’t be afraid to check out some shortcuts like HIIPA, HIIT or even active commuting. So do what you can, and good luck!
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.