I often get asked ‘How much exercise should I be doing?’ That is a good question. And like many good questions, there is no simple answer.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommends adults aged 18-65 accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, and at least two full body strength workouts per week.
The above guideline is a good starting point. If all Canadians did their part and moved their body at a moderate (increased breathing rate, still able to talk) to vigorous effort (not much breath left for conversation) for 21.4 minutes per day, we’d be a healthier population.
There are a few other points to consider when determining how much exercise you should be doing.
1. What is your goal?
The time you spend exercising will depend on your goal. If you simply want health benefits, then adhering to the CSEP’s recommendations is a good start. However, if you want to run a marathon, you’ll need to workout a bit more.
If your goal is to lose weight, 150 minutes per week may be enough- but that depends on a few different factors, listed below.
2. How intense are your workouts?
The intensity of your workout is more important than the time spent. Think quality over quantity for maximum results.
If you bump up the intensity, you can often reduce your workout duration. For example, 10-15 minutes of burpees and squat jumps at maximum effort would count as a workout.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you prefer to stroll instead of power walk, or socialize a bit while at the gym, you may want to exercise a little longer.
3. Are you exercising to make up for poor eating habits?
If you answered yes, and one of your goals is to lose weight, your efforts are in vain. The hours of exercise required to burn off extra calories is an unachievable goal for most. Even if you had the time and energy, your body would still not look or function as well as if you followed a sound eating plan. Give your body a break and say ‘no thank you’ to the second helping when you’re really not hungry and save the fancy coffees for a special treat.
4. What is realistic to you?
An hour a day at the gym sounds great in theory- but it may not fit well into your schedule. If you can’t commit a lot of time, commit your full effort to the time you have.
Tanja Shaw is a health and fitness coach, Rotarian, passionate entrepreneur, mom, runner, and owner of Ascend Fitness Inc. and host of the Fit & Vibrant You Podcast. Tanja and her team of expert fitness coaches inspire and coach others to become stronger, more confident and energetic versions of themselves. Visit Tanja at www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com and www.tanjashaw.com.