Medically Reviewed by Vincenta Faulkner, RD, CNSC, CCTD
When it comes to exercise, even one day a week is better than none at all.
Exercise can be a very personal experience. We test our physical and mental limits. When we’re just starting out, we expose our vulnerabilities by engaging in an activity that we may not be so familiar with.
Exercise is an activity that allows us to put ourselves to the test. We give ourselves obstacles and overcome them. As our health and fitness grow, we can take pride in the hard work we’ve put in to get there.
For folks just beginning their journey toward a consistent exercise routine and long-going gym junkies alike, there’s always plenty of information to learn that will help us hit our fitness goals.
When it comes to maximizing our time with our exercise regimen, knowing how many days a week we should be exerting ourselves for optimal results gives us an objective number that we can chase reliably.
There are so many ways that we can work out. All that matters is that whatever path to fitness we choose, we are getting the most out of it for ourselves.
How Much Exercise Do Adults Need?
General recommendations suggest getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week at a moderate level, or 75 minutes a week at a vigorous level.
On a weekly basis, 300 minutes of aerobic exercise is the recommendation to achieve weight loss.
Aerobic exercises can include leisurely walks, cycling, and swimming, allowing for increased intensity based on your experience level and capability.
The real bare minimum recommendation is 30 minutes a day of concerted physical activity.
Let’s examine some different types of exercise and explore what the research says about how we can optimize our time with these activities.
How Often Should You Run?
Running can be a great way to keep in shape. Consistent running may provide various health effects beyond our figure.
One study compared active long-distance runners, 80 miles or more a week, with folks who ran less than 10 miles a week. The participants in this particular study were all male. The long-distance runners were reported to have higher levels of beneficial HDL lipoprotein cholesterol. They also had a 50% reduction in hypertension.
Another study observed how running affected the presence of HDL cholesterol in women, and found that more running led to higher HDL levels. There were noticeable differences in HDL levels with every 16 km the women consistently ran.
In premenopausal women not taking oral contraceptives, there appeared to be an encouraging relationship between each km run and higher levels of that good HDL cholesterol. There was the same correlation between km run and HDL in postmenopausal women, regardless of whether they were taking supplemental estrogen, a treatment that may increase HDL.
Consistent Running Supports Heart Health
Even when practiced at a novice level, running consistently may have marked effects on our long-term cardiovascular health. One study determined that running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day at slow speeds is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
So how much running should we do in a day, and how many days a week?
You don’t have to run over 80 miles a week to see the effects of running. Even 5 to 10 minutes a day every day may be enough to have a noticeable effect on your overall health. Go at your pace, as slow as six mph (which isn’t as fast as it sounds), or speed it up for extra gains.
How Many Days a Week Should I Strength Train?
When it comes to training muscles, it’s important to listen to our bodies to determine what our limits are. Over-exerting ourselves with weight training can be dangerous. We can really damage our bodies if weight training is done incorrectly.
However, strength training can produce great results when done correctly.
One study sought to explore the best way to maximize muscular hypertrophy or muscle growth. It concluded that training each muscle group twice a week may produce optimal results.
Given that we have six major muscle groups, you can tailor an exercise plan that suits your needs based on your time and experience level.
Try To Train Each Muscle Group Twice a Week
If we should aim to train each of the six main muscle groups twice a week, you might choose to schedule 3-5 days of muscle training a week depending on your workout routine.
That’s two sessions for your chest, back, arms, shoulders, legs, and calves — the six main groups. One strategy that may be effective for beginners is pairing certain groups for a given session: chest and back, arms and shoulders, legs and calves.
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How Often Should You Stretch?
Though not as prominent in most exercise routines, stretching is still very important. Stretching allows your muscles to grow and builds flexibility, which may prevent future injuries when done regularly.
You should stretch before and after any exercise routine that involves running, muscle training, cycling, or another activity. However, dedicated stretching regimens are effective in their own right for improved flexibility.
What does the science say?
One study concluded that active stretching two to three days a week on a particular muscle might be an effective way to ensure better flexibility. In one study, several people practiced stretching their hamstring several days a week for four weeks. Just three days proved to be enough to achieve better flexibility.
Consistency Is Key to Long-Term Health
Even if you aren’t working out every single day, working out consistently at a rate that fits your needs during the week can do wonders for maintaining your health. As you keep up with your exercise, you may have an easier time staving off weight loss and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
It feels like common sense that exercise is so important to our health. But we all too often neglect this critical part of our wellness.
One study examined overweight rats and the changes in their bodies after being given regular exercise routines. What the researchers found was encouraging. The rats appeared to show a more controlled appetite after prolonged exercise sessions. The more they exercised, the less they ate, and they were able to maintain a consistent weight.
Their bodies appeared to adapt to the exercise and bolstered prevention to relapse into an overweight BMI.
If you stick with the exercise, it gets easier in the long run, which is why exercise plays such a big role in our program.
Work Out at a Level That Works for You
There are so many ways to begin your journey towards physical fitness, from running or taking a walk to strength training several times a week or signing up for a gym membership. Alternatively, you can get home gym equipment so you can exercise on your terms.
Think about physical activities that you enjoy and build a routine around them. When you can utilize an activity that you enjoy doing already into a resource for exercise and fitness, you get to turn that activity into self-care.
Zizi Is Here To Support Your Physical Health
Our mission is to help people along their journey of lowering their cholesterol levels and taking charge of their health. As part of our approach to fight cholesterol, we provide our subscribers with a heart health course that provides much-needed heart healthy exercise tips. Zizi also offers monthly at-home cholesterol tests— without the hoops.
Learn more about how you can lower your cholesterol with our program or our helpful inventory of supplements.
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