According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, along with a minimum of twice-weekly strength-training sessions. While this may seem like a large time commitment for some people, workouts can be broken up into shorter sessions – even as little as 10 minutes – without losing their effectiveness. For a person wanting a daily exercise plan, spacing weekly cardio and strength-training activities into smaller sessions each day can help you meet the minimum requirements and your own fitness goals.
Cardio exercise that increases your breathing and heart rate makes up a key component of your daily fitness routine. Whether you choose to keep it low impact with brisk walking or lap swimming, or kick it into high gear with kickboxing or mountain biking, the goal is to get moving every day. Keeping the CDC's guidelines in mind, plan your activities to meet or exceed these minimums. For instance, you could walk for 25 minutes each day, or jog for 20 minutes four days per week. If you enjoy aerobics, you could do two 30-minute sessions of fast-paced aerobics on nonconsecutive days, along with a 15-minute cycling session.
Strength-training exercises build and tone muscles, and while these can be performed as part of a daily routine, it's important not to work the same muscle groups back to back. For example, if you focus on your core one day, don't plan on doing a series of crunches or situps the next day. Alternate your target muscle groups, and aim for one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Common strength-training exercises include pushups, pullups, crunches, squats and lunges.
Flexibility is another major fitness component, and you can bookend your regular daily workouts with flexibility work. At the beginning of each workout, whether it's cardio or strength training, warm up your body with five minutes of light activity, such as walking or jogging in place, and gentle stretches. After exercising, spend about five minutes doing the same light activity performed in the warm up, but add an additional five minutes for active stretching. Stretch each major muscle group for 15 to 30 seconds, starting with your neck and working your way down your body. Don't bounce; rather, hold the stretch with your muscles fully engaged but not to the point of pain.
Putting It All Together
Now that you have the basic components for developing your own unique workout, you can begin to piece together a daily fitness plan that works within your schedule. Map out each day to determine which activities -- cardio, strength training or both -- will be included. If possible, alternate cardio and strength-training days, but if you do have to include both in the same day, try to keep the cardio at a moderate level to lessen your chance of muscle fatigue during the strength portion. Be sure to include adequate time for warming up and cooling down with flexibility work, and total your cardio times for the week to see if you're meeting the CDC minimums.