The answer to how much exercise is enough depends on your goals. Three main goals exist in relation to an exercise program: Avoiding disease, fitness and performance. These three goals form a continuum of fitness. At the far left of the continuum is the avoiding disease. Fitness lies in the middle and at the far right is performance. Performance relates anyone who wants to pursue optimal fitness and athletes competing at a high level in sports. Elite athletes may train up to seven days a week for their sport.
For most of us who are trying to stay healthy and in good shape, less time can be spent on our exercise programs to reap the benefits. To obtain a good fitness level, training 3-4 days a week at a moderate or moderate high intensity for 30-45 minutes will be sufficient.
For anyone new to exercise or just trying to stay healthy, it is even easier to attain the right amount of exercise. At this level, exercise performed at lower intensities and for less time will still achieve health benefits. For basic fitness, we should exercise on most days of the week. The intensity is moderate at this level and you only need to accumulate 30 minutes each day at this level.
The goal for health and fitness is to do some kind of conditioning or aerobic activity several times a week and 2-3 days of resistance training. Resistance training will build strength, muscular endurance, maintain or improve bone density and balance and help with maintaining weight while improving body composition.
This is great news for anyone who thinks that maintaining an exercise program has to be hard or will take too much time. Just 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week at a moderate intensity is enough to meet the goal of staying healthy and avoiding disease. Our health is important. With just a little exercise each day, we can greatly decrease our risk for disease and improve our health.
Once you meet the guidelines for avoiding disease, you can either maintain that level or challenge yourself to meet a higher fitness level or performance level goals. Either way, you will have more energy, feel better and improve our health.
If you are new to exercise, start where you can with some strength training exercises and some aerobic or conditioning activities such as walking or riding a bike.