How long do you need to exercise for to reach your health goals? Ever asked yourself that question? If you’re nodding your head right now, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will take you through everything you need to know about ideal exercise times and frequency for some of the most popular health goals.
But first, let’s start by saying there’s no magic answer here. Your ideal exercise time and frequency depend on numerous factors. Foremost, what’s your health goal? Are you aiming to lose weight, increase strength, enhance overall health, or possibly boost your lifespan?
We’ll go over each of these goals one by one – and what you need to know.
Here’s How Long You Need To Exercise for To Reach Your Health Goals
Before uncovering the complexities and nuances of exercise duration, let’s apply this concept to specific health objectives. First on our list is one of the most common goals: weight loss.
Your goal: Weight loss
Wondering how much exercise you need to do each week to lose weight? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should aim for 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to see modest weight loss. For significant weight loss, that number jumps to 250 minutes or more.
Sounds like a lot, right? Don’t sweat it – you don’t need to hit the gym for hours each day. Breaking up your exercise into manageable chunks can help make achieving this more feasible.
And exercise is beneficial for weight loss for a few key reasons. It helps you burn calories, and burning more calories than you consume is essential for weight loss.
But it’s not just about the calories. Regular exercise may also help increase your metabolism, which means you might burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. Additionally, exercise can help reduce abdominal fat, which can be particularly harmful to your health.
Remember, though, weight loss isn’t just about appearance. Regular exercise may improve your health in ways unrelated to the scale.
Your goal: Overall health
If improving your overall health is your main aim, you might ask, “How much exercise do you need to improve health?” Don’t worry, we’ve got the low-down for you. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. But it’s not just about getting your heart rate up; you should also include muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.
Exercise is a fantastic boon for your overall health. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help manage your blood sugar and insulin levels. It also aids in strengthening your bones and muscles.
And let’s not forget about the benefits for your mental health. Regular exercise can help improve your mood and reduce your risk of depression. It may also improve your sleep, which has a plethora of health benefits in itself.
And if these aren’t enough reasons to inspire you to break a sweat, remember that consistent exercise may enhance your brain health and memory, reduce your risk of falls, and even improve your sexual health.
Your goal: Strength
Building strength? Then strength-training exercises should indeed be a key part of your fitness routine. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests resistance training 2-3 times per week for each major muscle group. But don’t forget to give your muscles time to recover.
Now, let’s talk about why exercise, particularly strength training, is beneficial when it comes to building strength. It may seem obvious, but muscle strength isn’t just about looking like a superhero (although that’s a pretty cool bonus); it also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body and life.
When you build strength, you’re not just working your muscles; you’re also improving your balance, coordination, and posture. And it’s not just your body that benefits. Strength training can help you mentally, too. Studies show that it can help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Another critical (but underrated) point to consider is the role of strength training in bone health. As we age, we naturally lose bone and muscle mass. However, regular strength training can help combat this by increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Your goal: Longevity
If you’re aiming to add a few more candles to your birthday cake, you might be asking, “How much exercise do adults need for longevity?” Well, according to one study, people who exercised 150-450 minutes per week at a moderate pace had a lower risk of premature death. The surprising twist? More exercise did not necessarily mean a further decrease in risk.
So, why is exercise so crucial for longevity? The answer lies in the broad range of health benefits associated with regular physical activity. Exercise helps reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, all of which can shave years off your life.
Moreover, regular exercise helps maintain cognitive function as you age, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Types of exercises to help reach your health goals
Now that we’ve broken down exercise times and benefits by goal, let’s consider specific types of exercises for each of those health objectives.
iFIT, a paid subscription platform, offers over 14,000 on-demand workouts for a variety of health and fitness goals led by more than 200 expert trainers and is available on iFIT-enabled NordicTrack equipment.
Check out these iFIT series that are perfect for the health goals we’ve mentioned in this article.
For weight loss
For weight loss, a combination of cardio and strength training can help maximize fat burning.
- Recommended iFIT Series: Bahamas Beginner Weight Loss Series with iFIT Trainer Kelsey Shehan
For overall health
For overall health, a mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises are key.
- Recommended iFIT Series: Vietnam Intermediate Cardio HIIT Series with iFIT Trainer Hannah Eden
For building strength
For building strength, focus on resistance and weight training.
- Recommended iFIT Series: Strength Training 101 with iFIT Trainer Gideon Akande.
For longevity, moderate-intensity exercise seems to be the sweet spot.
- Recommended iFIT Series: Iceland Foundational Cycling Series with iFIT Trainer Jen Hudak.
Bear in mind that your current fitness level also influences how long you should exercise. If you’re just starting out, take it slow, and make sure to include a warm-up and cool-down. It’s okay to start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase your time. Consistency is what’s key.
How often should you work out?
Finally, let’s address the question that might be lingering in your mind most: “How often should you work out?” This largely depends on your individual goals and current fitness level. However, there are general guidelines available to point you in the right direction.
The CDC recommends spreading your activities throughout the week and ensuring that you’re not going more than two days without some sort of physical activity.
But there’s more to the story. As we mentioned earlier, different types of exercises come with varying frequency recommendations. For cardiovascular health, it’s recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week. If strength is your goal, 2-3 strength training sessions per week are ideal. And remember, each session should target all major muscle groups.
It’s also essential to listen to your body. If you’re just beginning your fitness journey, you might need more recovery time between workouts. Gradually, as your fitness level improves, you’ll be able to handle more frequent and intense sessions.
The bottom line
To sum up, how long do you need to exercise for to reach your health goals varies based on your specific goals and fitness level. It’s essential to be consistent, steadily increase your time, and choose the right types of exercise for your goals.
What’s clear is that regular physical activity is the key. It’s not about exercising every day or spending hours in the gym. Rather, it’s about finding a routine you enjoy and can stick to in the long term. That’s the real secret to achieving your health and fitness goals.
Talk to a fitness or medical professional to tailor a plan to your needs, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your health and fitness goals!
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.