How Much Exercise Per Week?

How much cardiovascular exercise should you do?

To receive all the health benefits of aerobic or cardiovascular-exercise, you should exercise for at least 20 minutes, three to five times a week for the rest of your life. This may sound daunting, but there is some flexibility involved. For example, if you enjoy a moderate form of aerobic activity, such as walking, your session might last longer – 30 minutes or more. If your chosen exercise is more intense, such as running, then 20 minutes may be sufficient.

If you have never exercised before, and want to know how much exercise per week that you should be doing, attempt a slow build-up to 20 minutes three times a week. If you cannot find the time for a 20-minute session, then two 10-minute sessions will be just as good.

How Much anaerobic exercise should you do?

You should work all parts of your body – legs, arms, chest, back, abdomen and buttocks. Aim to work each muscle group two to three times a week, with at least one rest day between workouts to allow the muscles to recover. You can work the abdominal muscles every day (unless you are pregnant). If you are using heavy weights, allow two days for recovery.

These are goals to work towards, rather than fixed rules: even if you only work each muscle group once a week, you will slowly gain muscle. You can do your muscle training either after an aerobic session or separately. If you do not have time to exercise the whole body in one session, then the upper body can be exercised one day and the lower body another.

How hard should you work?

To keep burning fat and exert your heart and lungs you need to exercise at an intensity that is neither too low nor too high – this rule applies to all forms of exercise; over-exertion is never recommended. A simple test is whether or not you can hold a conversation while you are exercising – if you are puffing so hard that you cannot talk, you are working too hard and should slow down. Measuring your pulse rate is also a very reliable test of over-exertion. You can take your pulse at your wrist or just below the line of your jaw.

The greatest improvements in aerobic or cardiovascular fitness happen during the first couple of months. As exercising becomes easier, you should increase the level of intensity to keep your body working in the right training range. This can be accomplished by training for longer, training more often or by working harder. Take your pulse rate every month and revise your workouts as necessary.

Dangers of cardiovascular exercise

Cardiovascular exercise often involves repeated impact and in some forms of exercise, such as running, jogging and high-impact aerobics, this can place stress on the joints. For this reason, you should avoid performing high-impact exercises more than four times a week and allow a day off between sessions to give your muscles, joints and soft tissues time to rest.

There is also a danger of working yourself so hard that your body no longer has the resources to keep going. Over-exercise poses a threat both to general health and can also increase the risk of injury. Over-exercise is particularly dangerous for people suffering from medical conditions such as heart disease. Consult your doctor if you are in any doubt about your ability to do cardiovascular exercise.