How often should you work out to achieve your fitness goals? Whether you’re getting back into working out or starting a new fitness plan, finding a balance can be difficult. Busy lives and lack of motivation can easily get in the way of the best-laid plans. Whether you prefer to join a fitness club or invest in a treadmill, it can be hard to make time for taking care of your health. Working out regularly is a common goal and it can be achieved in a variety of ways. However, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s to kickstart a new workout regime.
There are more options than ever for those looking to challenge themselves; from fitness classes at the gym to online guided workouts at home, there is sure to be a style that suits you. Often, a mixture of both strength and endurance workouts can stop you from getting bored while reaping useful benefits. But what do health experts and researchers think?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or swimming, per week. On top of this, adults should do at least two days of muscle-strengthening activity per week. This may sound like a lot, but it can be broken down into smaller chunks to suit busier lifestyles. If you are tight on time or prefer something more intense, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, alongside two days of strength training, is a good alternative.
If you struggle to incorporate regular exercise and positive health changes into your life, there are ways to slowly build up. Trying add one more walk into your day, swapping to healthy snack options, and avoiding sugary drinks. If starting a new regime seems daunting, simply going for a 30-minute walk each day can help you build confidence and work towards the recommended activity level.
How long does it take to get fit?
Knowing how often you should work out is one thing, but how long does it take to get fit? Physical fitness is defined by experts from the Encyclopedia of Behavioural Medicine as “…one’s ability to execute daily activities with optimal performance, endurance, and strength with the management of disease, fatigue, and stress and reduced sedentary behavior”. But being fit can have a personal definition depending on your genetics, starting health, and goals, making defining a general timeframe difficult. Some programs boast that they can get you fit in just six weeks or less, but those have been shown by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research to not necessarily make much of a difference. However, you may start to feel a difference within yourself in a few weeks.
A study published in the US National Library of Medicine states that “prolonged training can improve a subject’s physical fitness index from 80 to 120 over several months.” In other words, consistent training, alongside a healthy diet and rest, can create tangible results in your health. However, the study does warn that stopping training can affect your physical fitness; “Five weeks after cessation of an efficient training course, endurance-produced electrocardiogram changes have already disappeared.” To stay fit, you need to keep training and challenging your body; entering a sedentary lifestyle can set your progress back within only a few weeks.
Overall, it is clear to see why working out regularly can do wonders for your health. No matter how you choose to get those 150 minutes in, make sure to eat well, stay hydrated, and be mindful of your body to avoid injury. It is vital to remember that consistency and gradual progress are key to making fitness a part of your weekly routine.