Whether you exercise because you want to lose weight, or are just trying to be as healthy as you can be, there are guidelines to follow that will help you get to where you want to be. And while diet plays a major part in a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly is a major part of the equation. What's your workout goal? Read on to see how many hours you should be spending on moderate or vigorous exercise every week.
If you want to . . .
Lose weight: Creating a calorie deficit that results in weight loss is hard work. Most recommendations say that to lose weight, you must exercise for at least an hour a day, five times a week. The type of exercise matters, too. The FDA says that the best way to exercise for weight loss is the kind that gets your heartbeat up, so light-intensity exercise — like walking or doing some household chores — won't contribute very much.
Maintain weight loss: Studies from the American Council on Exercise show that the people who were most successful at keeping the pounds off after losing a significant amount of weight were the ones who, among other healthy lifestyle habits, worked out for at least an hour a day. The FDA, too, recommends that most people who want to maintain weight loss exercise for at least an hour and up to 90 minutes a day (for five times a week).
Stay healthy: A regular exercise routine is a powerful way to lower your risk of getting cancer and other diseases. The American Cancer Society recommends that you get at least 45 to 50 minutes of exercise five times a week to help lower your breast cancer risk. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all adults under 65 exercise at least do moderately-intense cardio, 30 minutes a day, five times a week or vigorously-intense cardio, 20 minutes a day, three days a week, to lower risk of disease and keep their hearts healthy.
Spending 300 minutes a week sweating it out takes dedication, and it can be hard to work in an hour each day devoted only to fitness, so it's OK to break it up. As long as exercise is moderate to vigorous (meaning your heart beat is raised and breathing becomes harder, as in a brisk walk or a run), you can achieve the same benefits by breaking up exercise into 10-minute bouts. So don't think you have to block out a whole hour before you go to work. Incorporate heart-pounding activities like walking briskly and taking the stairs into your day to complement your normal 30-minute treadmill session.