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Credit: jontunn

Experts say strength training should be done twice a week for optimal health

Everyone knows that you need to work out to be healthy and fit.

But do you know how much exercise you need?

Exercise Guidelines for Health

One of the most respected health organizations, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), provides the following minimum activity recommendations:

  • Do moderately intense cardio 30 min/day, 5 days a week


    OR

  • Do vigorously intense cardio 20 min/day, 3 days a week


    AND

  • Do 8 - 10 strength-training exercises, 8 - 12 reps each, twice a week


Remember, this is just the MINIMUM required to improve your health. If you're looking for weight loss or to improve sports performance you'll need to do more.

You don't have to do all the exercise at one time; breaking it up into multiple sessions throughout the day is okay. So if you're pressed to find 30 minutes at once, do 10 minutes of exercise three times a day.    

Exercise Guidelines for Weight Loss

The odds are pretty good that if you're reading this blog one of your fitness goals involves losing some weight. Two common traits of people who have successfully lost weight - and kept it off for more than a year - are daily breakfast and a daily workout.

ACSM doctors recommend 60 - 90 minutes of physical activity EVERY DAY to lose weight or maintain weight loss. I know what you might be thinking, who has that much time to exercise?  

You do.  

The best thing you can do is to schedule your exercise breaks. If you don't have an hour you can break up the duration and do more frequent bouts of activity throughout the day. Do 10 - 15 minutes four to six times in a day.

Also, remember factor factor one, support. Schedule your exercise with a friend, group or trainer.   

The Magic Number - Five Hours of Activity

Some studies have found that five hours of activity per week is the magic number for good health and bodyweight. This doesn’t all have to be structured exercise, but you should do three hours of formal exercise per week, including things like weight lifting, yoga or intense cardio. Then add a couple of hours of moderately intense physical activity like playing sports, gardening, brisk walking, hiking or physical labour.

Casually strolling through the mall doesn't count. You could, however, turn that shopping trip into a marathon by moving quickly from store to store and not taking any sitting breaks. Just remember to drink some water along the way.

Read about the next factor for optimal fitness: healthy eating