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How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?


If you were to poll gym rats, personal trainers and those who participate in organized sports about exercise frequency, most would testify that working out several times per week is necessary for optimal physical health. However, working out three to four times per week is not always necessary for the average individual. Most people do not have enough free time or energy to exercise every other day. In fact, most individuals find it difficult to squeeze in a couple of 30 minute workouts in any given week. This begs the question: How much exercise does one really need?



How Much Exercise is Necessary?

There is no clear cut answer to this question. The truth is that the amount of exercise each person needs differs by his/her unique body type, current state of health and the amount of calories he/she consumes.

In general, one should shoot for two and a half hours of exercise per week. Such exercise should be of moderate intensity. This is the recommendation of the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. Shoot for half an hour of physical activity five times per week. Whether it is biking, jogging, dancing, swimming or playing a sport like basketball, exercise of moderate intensity at such a frequency will keep you in excellent shape.


What if Five Workouts Per Week is Impossible?

Exercising five times per week is quite difficult for the average person. After all, most people have responsibilities ranging from work duties to parenting, tasks at home, schoolwork and so on. If one cannot exercise at such a frequency, it is prudent to jam 150 minutes of exercise in on the weekends or another couple of days during the week. This cramming of exercise will provide similar health benefits as exercising in half hour increments five times per week.

However, most physical fitness experts advise spacing out exercise as much as possible to prevent overuse of particular muscles and tendons that can lead to injury. When in doubt, head to your fitness center whenever you find yourself with free time and take advantage of all the gym training equipment available. Such equipment empowers you to work a variety of muscle groups in a relatively short period of time. Furthermore, knowledgeable staff are on-site to provide invaluable advice.


Exercise by the Numbers

The American Journal of Hypertension published research that determined between 61 and 90 minutes of exercise per week is more effective at decreasing systolic blood pressure than 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per week. However, the research also indicates that exercising for more than 90 minutes per week does not provide a heightened benefit when it comes to decreasing blood pressure or the heart risks linked to high blood pressure.

A recent study published in The Lancet states that heart patients who adhere to guidelines of a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times per week ultimately saved $2,500 in healthcare expenses compared to individuals who did not exercise at such a frequency.


Up the Intensity

If you are an extremely busy individual, key in on the intensity of your workout. You can obtain considerable benefits from exercise if you ramp up the pace and difficulty of your training. Increase the weight and/or reps when using gym training equipment. Try high intensity workouts, commonly referred to as “HIIT”. This is an acronym that stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Studies show that HIIT workouts cut required exercise time by upwards of 50 percent. Such intense exercises force you to go as hard as possible in short bursts, followed by brief periods of recovery. This way, you can fit in a workout in 20 minutes that would otherwise take 40 minutes if you exercised at a low to moderate intensity.

Research also indicates that the major health benefits of exercise are obtained with 75 minutes of high intensity workouts per week. If you prefer workouts of moderate intensity, you will likely have to invest at least 150 minutes per week.


When in Doubt, Be as Active as Possible

The suggestions outlined above are just that – suggestions. You should exercise as often as you can. There is no upper limit to physical activity that each person should abide by. Stay as active as possible by taking advantage of your local fitness facility's gym training equipment and you will find that you feel and look healthier. Furthermore, regular exercise will lower your risk for disease and consequently, help keep you out of the doctor's office.


But Don't Overdo It...

Exercise does not mean one has to push himself to the point that he is completely out of breath. Health benefits can be obtained through moderate exercise with gym training equipment, walking, dancing and other activities that require movement.


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