How Often Should You Exercise?

August 5, 2013

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Exercise dumbbells If you think you can’t keep up physically with your friend who hits the gym every day, think again.

Exercising every day may not be the best way to maximize your fitness and weight loss potential. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found those who trained every day burned fewer calories than those who exercised only a few days per week.

Seventy-two women between the ages of 60 and 75 years old worked out two, four, or six times per week. Women did either one day a week of aerobic training and one day a week of strength training; two days a week of aerobic training and two days a week of strength training; or three days a week of aerobic training and three days a week of strength training.

The workouts lasted about 40 minutes, and the strength training consisted of 10 repetitions of 10 different exercises.

Those who exercised four days a week burned the most additional calories outside the gym (biking, walking, etc.), followed by those who exercised two days a week. However, the women who sweat it out six days per week didn’t burn any additional calories.

Researchers believe this is in part because working out six days per week is a big time commitment, meaning the women had less time to engage in aerobic activity outside of the specified workout. Those who only put in two or four days at the gym had more time and energy to participate in activities that require movement without pressure or structure.

The bottom line is you don???t necessarily have to lift weights or spend countless minutes on the elliptical to get into shape. Two days of exercise training weekly improved aerobic fitness, strength, and fat-free mass as much as more frequent exercise. The gym isn’t for everyone. Make movement your priority. Split your lunch hour in half and take a 30-minute walk. Ride your bike to work. Hop in the pool on the weekends. If you choose an activity you enjoy, you are more likely to stick with it and make it a habit.

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