How often a person needs to work out to see results will depend on their fitness goals. Losing weight, building muscle, and increasing endurance and stamina each require a different approach to training.
Exercise has a range of important benefits. It enhances overall health, helps a person maintain a moderate weight, relieves stress, and can promote restful sleep.
Due to this, what people wish to achieve through exercise differs among individuals. Some people may use exercise as a weight loss technique, whereas others may want to build their strength.
This article addresses how often a person should work out based on their particular goals.
It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting any workout or strength training program, as they can offer advice on how to work out safely and minimize the risk of injury.
At its most basic level, weight loss is about solving a math problem.
A person must burn off more calories than they take in on a daily basis. Some of the ways a person can accomplish this include:
- eating fewer calories each day than they burn off
- increasing their physical activity to burn off more calories
- increasing their muscle mass so that they burn more calories at rest
There is controversy surrounding whether exercise alone is enough to achieve weight loss.
For example, some research suggests that exercise can cause the body to start to compensate by adjusting metabolism as a means to hold on to body fat.
Exercise still has a role to play in weight loss, but for maximum benefits, a person should combine it with a healthful calorie-controlled diet that reduces their calorie intake.
Researchers also note that continuing to exercise after weight loss can help stop people from regaining the weight.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend a combination of cardiovascular training and strength training to boost health and burn calories.
The AHA recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week.
A person can also engage in a mix of moderate intensity and vigorous activities should they prefer.
Example of moderate intensity activities include:
- brisk walking at a speed of at least 2.5 miles per hour (mph)
- riding a bicycle slower than 10 mph
- water aerobics
Examples of vigorous activities include:
- hiking, particularly uphill or while wearing a heavy pack
- jumping rope
- taking an aerobics class
- vigorous yard work, such as digging
Ultimately, a person can gain the greatest health benefits by engaging in at least 5 hours of physical activity a week.
Strength training involves using resistance to build muscle.
Muscle can help make the body more metabolically active, increasing the rate at which it burns calories.
The AHA recommend engaging in moderate-to-high intensity resistance training on at least 2 days of the week. Examples of approaches to resistance training include:
- Lifting weights: This could involve using weight machines or free weights to perform exercises such as biceps curls, bench presses, and leg presses.
- Using body weight for resistance: Exercise examples include lunges, squats, and tricep dips. A person does not require any equipment to do these.
- Using resistance bands: Resistance bands are stretchy elastic bands that help increase the amount that a person’s muscles must work. Resistance bands vary in tightness, with tighter ones increasing the exercise intensity. A person can perform exercises such as squats, lunges, biceps curls, and triceps extensions using resistance bands.
Anyone who is new to exercise and unsure where to begin may wish to consult a certified personal trainer. A trainer can advise the individual on what exercises are suitable for their level of health and fitness, as well as how to perform them correctly and safely.