How often and how much should one exercise?

Earlier I posted “5 Fitness Tips for Busy Businesspeople” which gave a few tips for staying fit while you are extremely busy.

However many of those tips don’t by themselves provide enough exercise to stay fit year round. Rather, those approaches are meant to get you through a few weeks of extreme schedule crunching.  Long term, you want to have a more substantial strategy for maintaining and/or improving your physical fitness, without overdoing it.

How often and how much should I exercise?

This is a question that actually has a lot of answers. The first question you want to ask yourself is for what purpose do you want to exercise? Is it simply to be healthy, maintain your weight, and increase your lifespan? Is it to gain strength? Is it to tone your body? Is it to lose weight? It would be worthwhile to take some time and search Google to find a good workout regimen for what you want to do.

Stephen Ball

Stephen Ball, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri said that the key to exercise is that “some is better than none. More is better than some. Too much is difficult to get.”

“Too much is difficult to get” — keep that in mind. The average person should be doing resistance training three times a week (for at least half an hour, an hour would be better), as well as cardiovascular activity (exercise that gets your heart beating and your lungs pumping) five times a week.

Let’s look at those two broad categories:  Resistance and Cardio training.

Resistance is… not futile

businessman resistance trainingResistance training is very important, but often ignored because cardiovascular exercise is generally considered more important (see below). Resistance training (the lifting of weights or using the resistance of weights) basically rips small tears into your muscles. This is why is hurts the next few days as your muscles heal and get bigger.

Your muscles use your fat reserves to fill in the tears that you made in your muscles, which makes resistance training an important part of losing fat for the long term. Cardiovascular is considered the ultimate weight loss regimen because you get much slimmer. While 60% of the weight you burn with cardio is fat, the other 40% you burn is muscle. Cardio exercise only burns calories during the actual exercise, but resistance training sets up fat burning factories that work for hours after a workout.

Resistance training also has a number of other health benefits including: relief from arthritis, bone strengthening (less chance of breaking them), and improved balance (if you use free weight instead of machines).


Oh, Cardio 

businessman cardio trainingWhile resistance training is mightily important, there is a reason that cardio is considered so essential: IT KEEPS YOU ALIVE LONGER. Cardio exercises help your organs to get stronger, specifically your heart.

Cardio improves your metabolism, which is what burns your calories to give you more energy. Ever wish you had more energy? Don’t rely solely on caffeine. Try doing come cardiovascular activities. Along with your metabolism, Cardio also improves your hormonal profile, in other words your body releases hormones that make you quite literally “feel good”. If you are someone who battles with depression, try exercising before turning to anti-depressants. Those are just a few benefits of cardiovascular activity.

There are different levels of cardiovascular activity. Use different levels of intensity to fit your personality or condition. If you have a hard time going for the full length of time, take a break in-between (but don’t count the break into your time).

Low intensity exercises are things like walking, gardening, or going up steps. Low intensity is good for people who either like to take things slowly, or find it is too painful to do higher levels of activity. If you elect to use low intensity, you should exercise five times a week for an hour each. Everyone should start their routine with a low intensity exercise before warming up into higher levels of intensity.

Moderate intensity exercises include dancing, fast walking, and bicycling. If you elect moderate intensity, you should exercise three to five times a week for on average 30 to 40 minutes each session.

Heavy Intensity exercises include jogging, running, jump roping, or swimming. You should exercise three to five times a week for 20 to 30 minutes a week.

I hope this was helpful.  Stay tuned for the next post in this exercise series: 6 Tips for Making and Sticking to an Exercise Regimen


Posted on October 1, 2013, in Exercise, Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice article. We all are extremely busy, who isn’t? The point is that you have to make a healthy lifestyle your priority.

  2. assuming of course healthy lifestyle = exercising = a daily ritual of alternating resistance training and cardio… 🙂

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