How Often Should You Exercise?

by Suzanne Hiscock

When it comes to weight loss you may have wondered how often to exercise. Do you have to work out every single day, or should you allow a day or two of rest in between? And does it differ when you’re doing cardio workouts or weight training workouts?

Weight Training

Most experts say that weight training should not be done every day because resistance exercises that stress your muscles actually create small tears in the muscle fibers, and the muscles then need 24-48 hours to heal and repair themselves.

Aim for 2 to 3 strength training sessions per week, lifting weights heavy enough to fatigue the muscles (or a few reps before). Beginners can start with one set of 8 to 10 exercises that covers all the muscle groups.

Don’t have any weights?  You can do body weight exercises such as pushups, squats or tricep dips.

Free Download:  10 Minute Workout for Your Hips, Butt and Thighs

Cardio Exercise

Cardio workouts get your heart pumping and can be done 3 to 5 times a week, for 20 to 60 minute sessions.  Brisk walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, using an elliptical machine or moderate paced bicycle riding shouldn’t strain your muscles too much and they can help you burn more calories and aid in weight loss.

See:  Calculate Your Target Heart Rate Zone

Work Your Way Up

Depending on your personal fitness goals, how often to exercise will vary but it’s important to work your way up to these amounts.  Exercising too hard or too often can cause injuries.  And if you overdo it, the soreness you feel may make you swear off exercise all together!

Workout Planner:  Plan Your Workouts and Print Out a Schedule

Take a Rest Day

Give yourself at least one full day off from any kind of official exercise routines.  A day off from working out is a great way to not only allow some well-deserved rest for your body, but also to help you relax mentally and emotionally.

Even though working out is mostly a physical activity, your mind and emotions are involved too, and pushing yourself too hard can actually have some adverse effects in the form of feeling stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed or “burned out.”

See:  Effectively Listening to Your Body

On your day off, you can still engage in physical activities, but try to keep them “unofficial” - activities like window shopping, playing with the kids in the backyard or taking a relaxing stroll on the beach are great ways to relax, recharge and restore your physical and mental energy.

Don’t Forget to Stretch!

It seems everybody forgets about stretching, yet it’s an important part of any exercise program.  Stretch at least 2 to 3 times a week minimum and up to 5 to 7 times a week, ideally.  Stretch all muscle groups for 15 to 30 seconds per rep.  The ideal time to stretch is right after a cardio workout.

My favorite book on stretching/flexibility: Full-Body Flexibility by Jay Blahnik

As always, consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Must Read
The Dangers of Over-Exercising and 4 Ways to Combat It
How to Recognize an Exercise Disorder

Previous Post

Losing Weight Without Trying: How and Why it Happens

Next Post

Willpower and Weight Loss: Turning No into Yes


About the Author

Suzanne is the owner of FitWatch. She's had strong interest in nutrition and exercise for over 20 years, and is an ACE-certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. Back in 2002, she started because she wanted to help people lose weight by creating helpful tools and calculators. A huge fan of calorie counting, Suzanne created the FitWatch Fitness Tracker to make it easy for people to count their calories.