Length of workouts are critical not only for results, but also to prevent against health complications. Many things can influence the time for physical activity such as outside temperature, whether your doctor has cleared you, or if you are properly hydrated and nourished.

How long you want to be active also depends on your goals and specific desires that you want to achieve, as well as experience. For instance, if the average person wanted to get stronger, the length of his or her workout is going to be shorter than if the goal was to be able to run a marathon.

Given that, the content in this article is going to be directed to people wanting to maintain or achieve a healthy lifestyle.

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It will also be important in this article to understand the difference between exercise and physical activity. Physical activity is any movement that takes more energy than resting levels. Exercise is planned, structured and repeated activity to achieve an end goal.

A good way of looking at it is that all exercise is physical activity, but not all physical activity is exercise. Some examples of physical activity include, gardening, housework, or walking up and down a flight of stairs. Exercising is more along the lines of running, cycling, or weightlifting.

Why?

First of all, a question needs to be answered. Why does anybody need to be physically active? Some people workout for specific reasons such as athletes or body builders, but the majority of people exercise to prevent against health problems or to lose weight to get their beach body on.

As stated by ACSM, physical activity delays “all-cause mortality”, as well as prevents against CHD (Coronary Heart Disease), stroke, type 2 diabetes, lowers blood pressure, helps manage body weight and preserves bone mass. While there are many more benefits associated to exercise, those right there should be enough to get anyone off the couch and into running shoes!

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How?

You’re not here to hear all about WHY exercising is good for you though, you want to know HOW. And to be more specific, how often should you workout . So let’s get started!

There have been many studies done proving that the more chronic physical activity one partakes in, the more health benefits he or she will achieve. However, when we start talking about the quality and quantity, it gets slightly vague. ACSM’s latest position stand on this says that an energy expenditure of about 1000 kilocalories per week of moderate intensity physical activity is associated with a decrease in all cause mortality as well as CVD (Cardiovascular Disease.)

Who here knows when they have an energy expenditure of 1000 kcal? Me neither. This statistic translates over into about 150 minutes per week.

Use that as a baseline! 150 minutes per week, when distributed evenly, comes out to 21.5 minutes per day. Round that up to 30 minutes and you can take two days off each week and STILL meet the minimum requirements to achieve health benefits! Now this is also at a moderate intensity, which is important to keep in consideration. Sauntering through the park while thinking philosophically won’t cut it.

While there is a time and place for that activity, (which more of us probably need to do) to achieve moderate intensity, one should walk or jog at a brisk pace. This pace should be intense enough that you can’t sing your favorite song all the way through, but not so intense that you couldn’t carry a short conversation.

If you don’t have the 30 minutes most days to be physically active, ACSM recommends that blocking out at least 10 minute intervals would be fine to achieve the 150 minutes per week.

The intensity makes a HUGE difference in the amount of time you need to be physically active or exercising. At a high intensity, a workout time of 10-15 minutes would be enough rather than 30 minutes to achieve a total of 75 minutes per week of high intensity physical activity.

To sum all of this up, when it comes to physical activity, more is always better. Try to get AT LEAST 150 minutes per week, and once you achieve that, increase it to 175 minutes per week, or perhaps keep it at 150 minutes but increase intensity. The length of time you should work out or be physically active is directly correlated to intensity.

Like everything else though, you have to start somewhere! Make today the day and go be active!

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