How often should I exercise?
with advice from Mark Salandra, CSCS
As the weather begins to get colder, many of us may be retreating indoors and not walking around as much. If you didn’t exercise regularly when it was warm outside, you’re probably moving less now that it’s not.
The recommendations from the U.S. government (through the Department of Health and Human Services) focus on aerobic exercise and strength training. They include 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes a week of high intensity training, plus strength training at least a couple of times a week.
Mark Salandra, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of Physiquality partner StrengthCondition.com, says that one of the best ways to achieve the aerobic component of these goals is by walking 10,000 steps a day. “Walking allows you to burn calories while working your leg and core muscles,” he notes. Even by walking the dog 2-3 times a day, rather than letting him do his business in the backyard, you can take more steps each day and improve your health (as well as your dog’s).
Mark also encourages readers to lift weights at least once, if not twice, a week. Even working with moderate, handheld weights can help strengthen your muscles and increase endurance. If you haven’t worked with weights before (or it’s been a while since you have), be sure to talk to your physical therapist or Physiquality coach about what weight and regimen might be best for you. Adjusting your weight too quickly or lifting with the incorrect form can cause injury and knock you off the path to wellness.
You can also use your own body weight to challenge your muscles. Push-ups on your knees, leg lunges, and stair step-ups or calf raises all challenge your lower body and strengthen your leg muscles. If these start to feel easy, Mark adds, you can always add a small hand weight while doing lunges or step-ups to increase the intensity. (You may think adding a two- or three-pound weight doesn’t sound hard, but see how long you last the first time you pick them up.)
If you’re trying to fit all of your exercise into one day a week, Mark advises avoiding high-impact activities. Most sports-related injuries come from high-impact movements, he says, and if you’re not working out regularly, you’ll be more likely to hurt yourself. It’s better to ask yourself what sounds like fun? Biking? Swimming? Video games that require you to dance or play a sport? If you enjoy your exercise, you’re more likely to stick with it. Just remember that the more you move, the healthier you’ll be.
Your local Physiquality physical therapist is an excellent resource for wellness and improving your physical fitness. Use our therapist finder to locate the professional nearest you.
For further reading, look through our selection of articles on sports and fitness, in addition to the below links:
Laskowski, Edward R. How much should the average adult exercise every day? Mayo Clinic, August 20, 2016.
Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity guidelines. U.S. Government.