How Much Exercise Should You REALLY Be Getting?

We all know exercise is beneficial -- but here's exactly how much the science says you need.

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What is truly needed for the health benefits? Sure, you go on walks and go on runs. But do you really know how much to aim for to cause positive change in your body? Here‘s what you need to know. As created by the American College of Sports Medicine!

By the way, these are meant for active adults. “Active” meaning occasional walks and runs and you do a home workout here and there. If this is you, get ready to create a new plan for yourself!

I love the ACSM guidelines because the numbers they share are pretty accurate for when we as PT’s, Trainers, or Strength Coaches try to advise to patients and clients. These numbers TRIGGER CHANGE in the body! 

The best part is, you don’t have to do it all at once! Aim for both aerobic AND resistance training minutes in the week. Cumulative minutes can still benefit you — you don’t have to do 30 minutes hour of aerobic cardio work non-stop. You can do 15 minutes walking to your local coffee shop and another 15 around the block after your WFH hours are done! Voila! 30 min towards the weekly goal!

Aerobic Training Guidelines

  • Aim for 2.5 to 5 hours of MODERATE intensity per week OR
  • 1–2.5 hours of VIGOROUS intensity per week
  • Spread out over multiple days
  • I.e. walking, running, cycling

Resistance Training Guidelines

  • 20 minutes has been shown to be beneficial, although this number is still uncertain
  • Aim for 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps
  • Movements should be SLOW & controlled
  • Target major muscle groups
  • Quality > Quantity
  • The last rep should be HARD but not IMPOSSIBLE
  • I.e. body weight exercises, weights, yoga

What is “moderate” and “vigorous” intensity?

If you’re not using target heart rate to help determine these ranges, you can use the Rate of Perceived Exertion and a scale of 0–10 to help gauge how you’re doing — with 0 being not hard at all, to 10 being very, very difficult.

  • Moderate intensity: you’re able to talk, but you can’t sing. About a 4/10 on the scale.
  • Vigorous intensity: you need to pause to say a few words. About a 6–10 on the scale.

Here’s a great visual to help:

So there you go. An easy way to map out your minutes to get to your weekly goal. Start small, stay dedicated. Be flexible, try new things. But most of all — just START moving!

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