Just as everyone starts working out for different reasons, everyone's timeline for seeing desired results will be slightly different based on individual goals and other factors. If you exercise every day for at least 30 minutes, you can expect to see some physical changes within the first few weeks. In time, the results of exercise will be even more pronounced.
With at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, you’ll notice some benefits within the first few weeks of working out.
Exercise Every Day for Benefits
After a month or two of working out 30 minutes a day, you may have increased confidence, a boost in mood, better sleep, and enhanced muscle tone and cardiovascular health. You may have lost some fat, and clothes might fit better. Within three or four months, you'll see improved muscle definition and tone. After a full year of consistent effort, you may have reached one or more of your goals (more on that next) — and perhaps you'll be ready to set your sights even higher.
Define Your Goals
Before you jump into exercising seven days a week, make sure you know why you're doing it. Weight loss, toning, muscle development, enhanced endurance or improved general health are just a few possible goals.
From there, establish realistic expectations about how long it will take you to achieve those goals. The timeline will vary based on the results you desire. For example, if you simply want to lead a less sedentary lifestyle, then 30 minutes of exercise a day might be sufficient. If you want to improve endurance so you can train for a marathon, your goals will be different than someone who wants to gain lean muscle mass for an improved physique.
In addition to setting proper expectations, it's important to design a workout program around your goals. If you want to run a 5K race, for example, you can set incremental daily and weekly goals that take you from walking to running. If your fitness goals are based more on weight loss or muscle building, however, you may wish to establish workouts that combine both cardio activity and weight training.
Working Out for Weight Loss
Your daily calorie intake dictates whether you'll lose, gain or maintain weight. As a general rule for weight loss, you must burn more calories than you take in — known as creating a caloric deficit. First, you need to know how to figure out how many calories you burn daily:
Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the number of calories you burn daily just by existing. It varies based on your gender, age, height and weight. The standard Harris-Benedict formulas are:
- For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
- For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
Calculate Daily Calorie Needs
To calculate your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by your individual activity factor, which is given a point value based on the frequency and intensity of activity. If you are very active, working out for at least 30 minutes a day, you would multiply your BMR by 1.725.
You can then align that number with your goals — for example, if your goal is weight loss, you would need to take in fewer calories than your baseline calorie needs.
Note that you need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat, according to Mayo Clinic, and you can accomplish this through cardio and weight training. If you create a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories through a combination of calorie reduction and increased physical activity, that means you can lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Working Out to Build Muscles
If your goal is adding muscle to your frame or toning up your overall physique, the time frame varies based on factors such as your gender and the intensity of your workout. Strength training can include a combination of body-weight exercises such as pushups and lunges, exercises performed with resistance bands, and exercises performed with weights and weight machines.
Some people train with weights five or six days a week and focus on a certain body part on each of those days, such as leg, arm or back muscles. The benefit of this strategy is that you can allow adequate rest between training sessions — around 48 to 72 hours is ideal to give muscles a chance to recover and grow. Others prefer to train all major muscle groups over the course of three or four days, with a day or two of rest in between sessions.
As you decide which weight-training strategy will work best for you, consider two important points:
- Intensity matters. To stimulate muscle growth, you need to facilitate a mechanical and metabolic overload that creates microscopic muscle tears. As the body repairs these tears, the muscle grows bigger and stronger. A common strategy is to perform four to five sets of an exercise, with about eight to 12 repetitions per set. Gradually increase the weight on each set, and allow a couple of minutes rest between sets.
- Don't overdo it. Although you want to stress the muscles to the point of breaking them down to grow, you don't want to injure yourself. If you feel pain in your back or joints, drop down to a lighter weight as you gain strength. Also, get enough sleep to ensure muscles have time to repair themselves and grow. The harder and longer you train, the more sleep you may need.
Boost Water Intake
If you're doing 30 minutes of exercise a day, seven days a week, it's more important than ever to pay attention to your diet and water intake. Water helps regulate your body temperature, lubricates joints, flushes out bacteria and transports nutrients throughout your body.
You need to drink about an ounce of water for every 2.2 pounds of weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. As you exercise and sweat, you lose water and therefore must boost your intake even more, to stay at optimal hydration levels.
Adjust Your Diet
As far as diet, you need a proper balance of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the carbohydrates, fats and proteins needed for proper bodily function, and micronutrients are the essential vitamins and minerals. Your individual dietary requirements depend, again, on your personal fitness goals.
The general guideline, according to Tiffani Bachus, RDN, is to consume 45 to 65 percent of your diet from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent from protein and 20 to 35 percent from fat. Adjust these numbers up or down based on your workout routine. For example, you might need a higher ratio of carbohydrates for energy if you are performing endurance training. Most important, focus on lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, a range of colorful vegetables and plant-based fats.
- Mayo Clinic: Fitness Training: Elements of a Well-Rounded Routine
- Mayo Clinic: 5K Run: 7-Week Training Schedule for Beginners
- Healthline: How Long Does It Take to Get in Shape?
- Omni Calculator: Harris-Benedict Calculator
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
- Medical News Today: Calculating How Many Calories Are Burned in a Day
- 8 Fit: Take Rest Days: Why You Should Rest Between Exercises
- National Sleep Foundation: Sleep, Athletic Performance, and Recovery
- International Sports Sciences Association: Hydration – A Comprehensive Guide
- Ace Fitness: How to Determine Macronutrient Needs Based on Goals
- Ace Fitness: 8 Ways Strength Training Creates Change in the Body