One of the questions that we often get asked as physical therapists is “how often should I workout”? Most of the time this question comes from patients/people who are either just starting to workout or else have desires to start to workout more regularly. Well today one of our fitness specialists, Jared Beckstrand, PT, DPT is sharing his thoughts about exercise frequency – what’s the recommended amount of activity you should be getting and how often should you be working out. Keep reading for more… In it’s simplest form – the recommended amount of exercise that people should be getting is 2 1/2 hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity per week. The classic example of a moderate-intensity activity is walking. Basically anything where you’re burning about 5-7 calories per minute would be a good example of a moderate intensity exercise. So to keep this suggestion as simple as we can – this would equate to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days out of the week.
With that in mind – how often should you be working out? Really there is no wrong answer, but here are some guidelines that I would try to keep in mind to avoid injury and maximize your results:
3 Days/Week – this is typically my recommendation. If you can get in some kind of moderate/vigorous workout (be it at home, in the gym, outside, wherever) for even 30 minutes 3 days a week you’re at a fantastic starting point! It gives you a great sense of accomplishment and some really great results can actually be seen. It also gives your body an important day between workouts to heal, repair, and recover from whatever activity you took it through. 3 days/week is a great place to start.
1-2 Days/Week – life gets busy – we understand that completely. If you’re just totally unable to make it in 3 times/week then even 1 day/week is going to be a lot better than zero. The bottom line is your body needs to move! The majority of patients that we see in our clinics are actually there not because they have been working out way too much, but because they actually haven’t been moving enough! Muscles get strong when they move. Joints are actually nourished by movement! Exercising even 1-2 days/week has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, sleep habits, muscle strength and overall mood. Try to do something active at least 1-2 days/week.
5+ Days/Week – to the other end of the spectrum – it might be all your gym can do to kick you out come closing time! For those of you who might be working out 5-6 days a week – this is completely fine as long as it’s done correctly! Following a few simple guidelines will help you enjoy this type of activity for a long time:
– Never the same muscle groups on back-to-back days: Exercising the same muscle group day after day denies your body of its much-needed rest and recovery period. This can lead to fatigue, pain, and ultimately overuse injuries. Try to give your body at least one day of rest in between workout sessions.
– No more than twice a week per body area: Granted there are some very specific exceptions to this rule, but generally you should try to avoid working out the same body area more than twice in any given week. Again – this is going to provide some safety to ensure that your muscles are getting some much needed rest and recovery time.
So try mixing things up! Try incorporating multiple different workout styles that workout different body areas to keep your body guessing. In addition to weight lifting and cardio – think about what else you can try! Yoga/Pilates, Zumba, HIIT, body pump, barre classes, and TRX are some of my favorite in-gym activities, but don’t forget about hiking, cycling, outdoor sports, and skiing! Even parking further away from the grocery store and taking the stairs at work are great ways to get a little more activity in your day!
If you’re interested in learning more including getting some exercise recommendations specific to you and your goals we would love to see you! We can discuss your goals and needs and come up with an exercise plan that is going to work the best for you. Please contact us at one of our four conveniently-located locations to learn more…