How much exercise should I be doing?
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
You might be just starting up in your fitness journey, or have been in it for awhile. You also might be starved for time due to a busy schedule or just don’t really enjoy being in the gym. There are so many factors that influence the time you should dedicate in a week to do exercise.
The first thing, and in my opinion the most important thing to consider is what exercise do you enjoy doing? Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy doing, because the likelihood of maintaining consistency with that will be quite low - and consistency is key! Pick something that you enjoy, and you know you will be able to do it on a weekly basis - whether that’s biking, running, swimming, weights, Zumba, yoga, walking or literally anything else.
ACSM Guidelines for the Healthy Population
Now how much of this should you be doing? Well the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines recommends healthy adults aged 18-65 years to participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 150mins per week OR vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 60mins a week. You can split these times up as you prefer and with the time that you have available to you. Eg. 150mins can be split up into 3 days of 50mins.
So what is moderate intensity? Moderate intensity in terms of heart rate can be measured as anywhere from 60%-75% of your Max heart rate. Max heart rate can be roughly calculated with (220-age). So a rough estimate of a 65% of a 50 year olds max heart rate would be (220-50x0.6) = 110. Therefore, moderate intensity exercise for this person would be maintaining a 110 heart rate throughout the walk.
Working up towards this volume of exercise must be done appropriately! We shouldn’t jump from doing 0 minutes a week to 150 minutes a week in 1 week. This should be done progressively over a number of weeks to avoid burnout, over-stress, and injuries - and remember consistency is key! Health benefits don’t come after 1 week of exercise.
ACSM Guidelines for Weight loss
The ACSM guidelines for weight loss is a little different. Picking the exercise you enjoy is still the number priority. However, the volume and intensity is a little higher. The ACSM recommends 300mins of moderate intensity exercise per week. Slow progression up to 300mins is also recommended. A good guideline is to increase 20-30mins every week.