Optimal Time for Exercise? Here’s What Experts Say

It’s one of the most asked questions in the gym and there’s a good chance you’ve wondered about it yourself. What exactly is the optimal amount of time you should spend working out? We’ve all seen the gym rats who never seem to leave the gym and we all know the weekend warriors who come in to walk on a treadmill for 10 minutes before leaving. Is either of these populations right? Or is the answer somewhere in between? Let’s take a look at what experts say is the ideal amount of time that you should be exercising.

Defining Exercise

Before we give you the agreed upon time for exercise duration, it’s important to understand what is considered exercise. Does it count when you’re standing around chatting? What about if you are resting in between sets?

Exercise is defined as the active time you spend engaged in a physical activity. Whether you’re running on a treadmill, swimming in a pool, or lifting weights, you only count the time that your body is physically active. This is important to understand because total gym time is not the same as total exercise time. With that said, how long do you need to be physically active?

Workouts Should Last…

Not so fast. It depends on the type of workout that you’re performing. You can look at a workout in terms of its intensity. In other words, how difficult are your workouts? How much are you pushing yourself? Can you comfortably carry a conversation during your workouts? Do you barely sweat? For each workout, you should be pushing yourself into either moderate intensity or high intensity levels.

Moderate Intensity

According to the Center for Disease Control studies, you need to engage in 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate intensity exercise every week. Here are some great examples of moderate intensity exercises:

  • Brisk walking
  • Light jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Weight lifting

High Intensity

 If you want to save time and reap more health benefits, then you should be performing 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity exercise each week. Examples include:

  • Running
  • Extreme cycling
  • I.I.T. workouts
  • Advanced lifting techniques (Super Sets, Tri Sets, German Volume Training, Etc)

Mix It Up

The ideal workout program will be a mixture of these two intensities. The idea is to keep your body guessing as you move through different exercises and workouts. For example, here is a sample workout program based on the two different intensities:

  • Monday: High Intensity: H.I.I.T. Workout
  • Tuesday: Low Intensity: Light Jog
  • Wednesday: Rest / Take a comfortably paced walk
  • Thursday: High Intensity: Weight Lifting (advanced technique of German Volume Training)
  • Friday: Low Intensity: Cycling
  • Saturday: Low Intensity: Swimming
  • Sunday: Rest 

Tell Us What You Think!

How long do you spend exercising?

Do you see more benefit from short or long workouts?

Let us know in the comments below!

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