What are the best exercises for me?
For many of us, even when we understand how much regular exercise can improve our mental and physical health, the real challenge lies in developing an exercise routine that we can stick with. It’s much easier to get up and get moving every day when you actually experience the results you’re looking for—whether that’s trimming your waistline, improving your sleep, mood, and energy, or easing symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression.
Whatever benefits you’re looking for from a fitness plan—and whatever your current fitness level—the key is to mix different types of physical activity. The most effective exercise plans should include a mix of three elements: cardio (or aerobic) training, strength training, and flexibility and balance exercises. This will not only maximize the health benefits, it will also keep your workouts varied and interesting.
Of course, you can always sign up for personal training sessions at a gym, find workout plans online, or download a fitness app, but developing the right exercise plan doesn’t have to be that complicated or expensive. These simple guidelines can help you make the most of your time and reap all the health and weight loss rewards of regular exercise.
How much exercise do I need?
The important thing to remember about exercise is that something is always better than nothing. By simply sitting less and moving more throughout your day, you can experience health benefits. For substantial health benefits, though, government guidelines in the U.S., UK, and other countries recommend that you aim for:
At least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity activity per week. That’s 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week, broken down into 10-minute bursts if that’s easier.
At least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week will deliver the same benefits, if your fitness level allows you to work out harder. That means running for 15 minutes, for example, instead of walking briskly for 30 minutes.
You can combine both moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise, remembering the general rule of thumb that 2 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is the equivalent of 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity.
AND DON’T FORGET TO
Include muscle-strengthening activity at least twice a week as part of your weekly totals.
Looking to lose weight?
You can gain additional health benefits by exercising for 300 minutes or more at moderate-intensity (or 150 minutes or more of vigorous-intensity exercise) each week. This can be especially beneficial for weight loss.
If you’ve never exercised before or have been sedentary for a long time, it’s advisable (after consulting with your doctor) to start off slowly and gradually build up to these activity levels. Instead of 30 minutes of walking 5 days a week, for example, start with 5 or 10 minutes and build up from there.