How Often Should I Exercise Per Week?

Workout set with heart rate monitor
An overhead view of exercise gear. (Image: everydayplus/iStock/Getty Images)

Daily exercise has the power to strengthen your heart, manage your weight and elevate your mood. Unfortunately, if the American overweight and obesity rate of 60 percent is any indication, the vast majority of people aren't getting the exercise they need in order to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get a minimum amount of exercise per week for optimum health. Their general guidelines provide an ideal foundation for a healthier lifestyle.

Aerobic Exercise

The CDC suggests that adults get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. This breaks down to about 30 minutes of exercise per day for at least five days per week. While two hours and 30 minutes of exercise may seem like a lot of time, it's fine to break up your physical activity into more manageable chunks of time, such as three sets of 10-minute intervals during the day. This makes meeting your aerobic exercise requirements easier.

Muscular Endurance

Aerobic exercise is anything that raises your heart rate. Muscular exercise refers to using resistance to build strength. Whether you use your own body weight, resistance bands or free weights, the CDC recommends completing muscle strengthening exercises at least two days each week. Muscular exercise should target the major muscle groups, including the abdominal muscles, arms, shoulders, chest, back, hips and legs. Muscular endurance benefits bone health and helps you retain strength for daily activities.

Choosing a Routine

Choosing an exercise routine that you find enjoyable is a vital part of making daily exercise a habit. If you don't enjoy exercise, you may not fulfill your daily requirements. Exercise can happen anywhere that you're able to raise your heart rate. This means walking up stairs, playing a sport, dancing and swimming all constitute exercise. Choose a routine that you actually enjoy for a better chance at fulfilling your weekly requirements.

Creating Habits

If you're serious about ensuring that you fulfill your weekly exercise requirement, exercise must become a habit for you, rather than a casual activity. Select the time of day when you're most likely to exercise depending on your schedule and energy level. Then, set that time apart of exercise in the same way you would a dentist appointment or parent conference. By treating exercise like an appointment, you'll be more likely to exercise on a daily basis. It may also help to enlist a friend to provide support by exercising together. This adds an element of accountability until exercise becomes second nature to you.

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