The right amount of exercise is a tough thing to find. There's typically no right or wrong answer, no matter what anyone tells you. There are answers out there from some of the biggest health authorities in the world, and those are the closest you can get for good health. Passed good health, it's a minefield of information.

To really be able to answer the question completely, it’s a good idea to look at the general points and work our way down into the specifics. Let’s do it

Good Health

The first thing we’ll look at to point us in the right direction of how much exercise we should be doing per week, per day and in general, comes from the first point we mentioned. What do some of the biggest health authorities tell us?

Moderate Exercise

 

people running together

 

The first point of call from the most general perspective is looking form the guidelines of moderate exercise from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

 

They say 150 minutes per week is the magic number that we all need to be hitting on a regular basis, no matter who we are.

No matter how or why you are training, as long as you hit that sweet spot of exercise, you're doing right by your body in that sense. It helps if you get it from solid aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling, but any exercise is good.

Vigorous Exercise

 

person exercising on a rowing machine

 

When we turn things up a notch from power walking, jogging or light cycling, however, things get deeper still. Since you’re working your body so much harder, it makes sense that we don’t have to work out for quite as long. That opens up a tonne of doors.

The NHS

says that once you turn up the heat from moderate exercise to vigorous, the game changes. So much so, in fact, that you can half your workout time. That leaves you with just 75 minutes per week or solid vigorous exercise. Whether it’s HIIT training, running or general long-term cardio, it all works here as long as you’re getting your heart rate nice and high.

 

Fitness Goals

So now that we have covered the basics of good health and how much you should exercise on a general level, it’s also a good idea to take a look at how much you need to exercise to reach specific goals too. The two may even intertwine perfectly, meaning you don't have to exercise any more than you already are. You just need to know a bit of extra info behind it.

Weight Loss

 

Person using an assault bike in a dark room

 

Let’s start with weight loss. If you’re looking at how much exercise you need to do to lose weight, the answer is not something you’re going to like. That’s because there isn’t one. In reality, it all comes down to calories in total. Every single day.

To lose weight, you need to make what is called a calorie deficit. That means you are using more calories in a day than you consume. Whether that is from your diet alone or from diet and exercise, it doesn’t matter.

The problem with that is that it makes a lot of variables. There’s no one answer. Even if you go running for an hour a day and burn, say, 500 calories and your maintenance calories are 1500, but you still eat 2200 calories a day, it’s probably not going to help you very much in the long run. That’s because even with the exercise you’re still getting more calories than you can use.

It’s really complicated, but that’s how it works (for more info, check out the fundamentals of weight loss)

Muscle Building

 

Person bicep curling a dumbbell

 

Totally the opposite to everything we have just said, we need to look at how much you need to exercise if you’re goal is to try and build muscle too. It’s a massively popular fitness goal after all, and whether you’re bodybuilding or just trying to build muscle mass for your health, it’s good to know this stuff.

Although this isn’t set in stone just like exercising for weight loss isn’t, there is a bit more of a structure you can follow. Generally speaking, you need to be resistance training with weights or your own body weight in a way that is going to overload your muscles. If it’s hard work, then it’s working (as long as it doesn’t hurt. That’s never good).

Once you’re going that, if you’re really trying to pack on mass you need to make a calorie surplus. That’s consuming more calories than you use in a day, but only slightly. Too many calories will always end up resulting in more stored fat as well as muscle, so bear that in mind. Take it steady and eat smart.

 

Remember

Overall, above all else, your health has to come first. Make sure you try to stick as close to the guidelines from the NHS and WHO as much as you can for the benefit of your health in general. Other than that, take on board what we have said for the other two fitness goals and make yourself a plan you can follow. Exercise as and when you can do, and you’ll soon see all of the benefits to your health that it has to offer.

If you’re really struggling to fit in the all-important activity, don’t be afraid to check out some shortcuts like HIIPA, HIIT or even active commuting. Do what you can, and good luck!

 

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.