How Long Should Your Workouts Be?

by in Fitness, February 27, 2013

Finding the time to work out can be beyond challenging. Once you do carve out time to hit the gym (or other workout location of choice) – how much time should you spend sweating it out?

How Much?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, folks should be getting 150 minutes of physical activity each week, including both cardio and strength-training sessions. Cardiovascular exercise should be at a moderate intensity (no lollygagging), something like brisk walking or easy biking counts. If you really ramp up the intensity, the 150-minute recommendation shrinks to 75 minutes but you’d better be working it (examples include running, swimming laps or playing basketball). Two weekly sessions of resistance training (such as lifting weights or yoga) should work all major muscle groups.

Don’t have a large chunk of time to spare everyday? No need to throw in the towel – you can break it up into smaller increments. Even as little as 10 minutes at a time counts.

It really all comes down to intensity. If you’re a runner, hitting the pavement for 75 minutes a week comes out to 15 minutes per day, over 5 days. Walking 25 minutes each day for 6 days a week will also meet the requirements. As you continue to exercise, you’ll gain strength and endurance – making it easier to work harder. Visit the CDC Website for specific guidelines on increased activity.

How Much is Too Much?
There is such thing as too much exercise. No matter what level of fitness you’ve achieved, your body needs at least one day off each week to rest and recharge. Beginners should consider more like 2 to 3 days a week of rest to ensure they ease into their workout regimen. Periods of rest aren’t a sign of weakness; they’re actually quite the opposite. They give your muscles the opportunity to recover and dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

Exercise Tips: Dos and Don’ts

  • Do commit to some form of physical activity — the benefits are numerous!
  • Do stay hydrated and properly fueled for exercise.
  • Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like; find a form of exercise you enjoy.
  • Don’t be a hero – start slow and work your way up.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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  5. OWEN88 says:

    There are many great cardio exercises which are really great for our health. In my opinion, the best cardio exercises are swimming and running.

  6. Jeet Chowhan says:

    Long duration workouts, particularly prolonged strength training workouts, can be very stressful to a number of the body's systems. Both the nervous and muscular systems are heavily taxed during a typical workout. The extent of this stress and strain depends on a few factors including the type of activity, the intensity and the duration. Both systems need adequate time to recover in order for progress to be made.Exhaustive, long drawn-out workouts are okay now and then, but not every time. Piling on the stress to the nervous and muscular systems very quickly leads to burnout.When it comes to working out, the old saying of "quality over quantity" definitely holds true. It is okay to undergo longer duration workouts into your program over time, just not every time. It is also perfectly okay to perform more than one short workout in one day. You can do a 20-minute workout in the morning and another in the evening. Divide the workouts into intervals.

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  8. There are lots of great cardio exercises that are really great for the health. In my estimation, the best cardio exercise exercises are swimming and running.

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