Happy New Year! We hope that you had a warm and enjoyable holiday season and are ready for 2021. With the new year, comes New Years Resolutions. Perhaps you have set a few goals for yourself: eat more greens, meditate daily, drink less alcohol, lose weight, exercise more and so. Which brings me to a common question patients ask: how much exercise do I need?
The answer to that question depends on your goals. Firstly, for safety, you should always get clearance from your doctor prior to engaging in any exercise program. Once you have been cleared to safely start exercising, a good guideline to follow is the "24 Hour Movement Guideline" from the The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP). In this guideline, the CSEP recommends that adults ages 18-64 accumulate 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. Please note these guidelines may not be appropriate for those who are pregnant or have a disability or medical condition.
Do you have a specific goal in mind? Consider the following examples:
- If your goal is to build strength: aim to engage in resistance training 2-3x/week including exercises that target major muscle groups. Major muscle groups include: shoulders, back, legs, glutes and so on. Resistance training can be done using weights, bodyweight, bands and so on. Persistence is key when it comes to building strength. The first 4-8 weeks is simply neural adaptations, where your brain is connecting the circuit to your muscles, it is not until after roughly 8 weeks that you will start to see hypertrophy or increases in muscle size. So stick with the program!
- If your goal is to lose weight: cardiovascular exercise should be your focus along with nutritional lifestyle interventions. Start with at least 150 minutes of accumulated exercise per week (in bouts of 10 minutes) working up to 300 minutes/week. The exercise should be at a moderate intensity (it gets you sweating and breathing harder!) Losing 1-2 pounds/per week is a safe goal when trying to lose weight. Reducing your energy intake is very important and thus I suggest speaking with a Registered Dietician to help with the nutritional aspect of weight loss.
- If your goal is to improve your flexibility or engage in stretching, I suggest checking out my “Stretching Myths and Truths” Blog post for more information!
I hope that helps answer your question surrounding how much exercise you need. If not, feel free to touch base with more questions! And for more information and exercise guidelines, check out the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology: https://csepguidelines.ca/
Registered Physiotherapist and Kinesiologist