How often should you exercise?

A common question we’re asked in the Grounded studio is how often should you exercise? Well, the most accurate answer is that it depends. It depends on whether you’re wanting to exercise for health, fitness or weight loss—even whether you’re training for something in particular, such as a marathon or triathlon. Let’s explore a couple of the factors that can make a difference to this question. 

What are the recommended guidelines for exercise? 

There are standard health guidelines on how often you should exercise. According to the Australian Department of Health, doing any physical activity is better than doing none! Ideally adults between 18-65 should be doing 2½ – 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1¼ – 2½ hours of vigorous intensity exercise (or the equivalent combination of each) per week. The department also recommends doing muscle strengthening exercise at least two days per week. 

Minimising the amount of time spent sitting and trying to break up longer periods of sitting as often as possible is another recommendation set out by the department. This is because there is research to suggest that if you spend more time on your bottom each day than you do standing or moving around, it increases your chance of some types of cancer and is linked to heart disease and diabetes. This is even if you do 30 – 60 minutes of exercise a day! So, make sure you keep yourself moving as much as possible even outside those blocks of exercise. 

How often should you exercise for weight loss? 

If your goal is to lose weight, the type of exercise you do is just as important as how often you exercise. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to push yourself to breaking point. The old adage of “no pain no gain” is just not true! Any kind of incidental exercise adds up to your overall daily movement so just try to stay as active as possible. 

Ideally, meet the minimum guidelines set out by the Australian Department of Health and try to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Beyond this, you may like to work out a schedule that includes a few different types of exercise. Interval training has been proven to be the most effective fat burning exercise. Interval training is a combination of strength and cardio where you do short, sharp bursts of activity followed by periods of brief rest so that your heart rate goes up and comes down. The Grounded Strength and Functional Fit classes are good examples of this. 

Remember, weight loss is just as much—if not more—about how you’re nourishing yourself. Any exercise measures will be much more effective when combined with a healthy way of eating. 

How often should you exercise for fitness? 

If your main aim is fitness, you’ll probably find that your exercise requirements change as your fitness does. If you’ve been inactive for a while, you’ll need to start slow. Recovery is an important part of exercise so don’t push yourself too hard in those early weeks when you’re getting your fitness back. We’d recommend keeping the intensity low and having at least a day or two rest in between each exercise day to begin with and work your way up to more. 

If you’re still confused about how often you should exercise, an ideal schedule would look like this: 

1-2 days of strength training
1-2 days of cardio (or combine these into an interval style class outlined above)
1-2 days of something like Pilates or yoga

Ideally give yourself two days of active recovery within a 7 day week.