Exercise has a range of important benefits. It enhances overall health, helps a person maintain a moderate weight, relieves stress, and can promote restful sleep.
Due to this, what people wish to achieve through exercise differs among individuals. Some people may use exercise as a weight loss technique, whereas others may want to build their strength.
This article addresses how often a person should work out based on their particular goals.
It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting any workout or strength training program, as they can offer advice on how to work out safely and minimize the risk of injury.
How often to work out for weight loss
At its most basic level, weight loss is about solving a math problem.
A person must burn off more calories than they take in on a daily basis. Some of the ways a person can accomplish this include:
- eating fewer calories each day than they burn off
- increasing their physical activity to burn off more calories
- increasing their muscle mass so that they burn more calories at rest
There is controversy surrounding whether exercise alone is enough to achieve weight loss.
For example, some research suggests that exercise can cause the body to start to compensate by adjusting metabolism as a means to hold on to body fat.
Exercise still has a role to play in weight loss, but for maximum benefits, a person should combine it with a healthful calorie-controlled diet that reduces their calorie intake.
Researchers also note that continuing to exercise after weight loss can help stop people from regaining the weight.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend a combination of cardiovascular training and strength training to boost health and burn calories.
The AHA recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week.
A person can also engage in a mix of moderate intensity and vigorous activities should they prefer.
Example of moderate intensity activities include:
- brisk walking at a speed of at least 2.5 miles per hour (mph)
- riding a bicycle slower than 10 mph
- water aerobics
Examples of vigorous activities include:
- hiking, particularly uphill or while wearing a heavy pack
- jumping rope
- taking an aerobics class
- vigorous yard work, such as digging
Ultimately, a person can gain the greatest health benefits by engaging in at least 5 hours of physical activity a week.
Strength training involves using resistance to build muscle.
Muscle can help make the body more metabolically active, increasing the rate at which it burns calories.