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You Asked: Workout Times and Exercise

I have always been a little confused about exercise times. I do cardio for a total of 30 minutes, but 10 minutes of that is warm up and cool down. Should I actually do a total of 40 minutes - 10 minute warm up and cool down with 30 minutes vigorous activity - to achieve benefits? In other words, are recommended exercise times inclusive of warm up and cool down?
- Confused Carol

I'm glad you've asked this question because I actually always wondered about this for years before I figured it out too! The new fitness guidelines state that: All healthy adults ages 18 to 65 years need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three days each week.

This means that five days a week your target heart rate should be 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate (220-age=maximum heart rate) for at least 30 minutes. Or that three days a week your target heart rate should be 70 to 85% your maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes. This is not inclusive of warm up and cool down, so you have it exactly right when you say you should increase your workout to 40 minutes. In 40 minutes you can do a 5 min warm-up, a 30 min cardio session (where your heart rate is at 50-70% of your max) and a 5 min cool down.

A heart rate monitor is a great way to keep track of your heart rate and as coincidence has it, I'm giving one away for free! You could win your very own Polar Heart Rate Monitor, so click here to enter the contest (to be entered, all you have to do is comment once).

Fit's Tip: If you're a bit crunched for time, then you might want to opt for the higher intensity (75-85% of your MHR) cardio workout at a shorter duration (20 mins).


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