How much exercise do you *actually* need to get in shape?
Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?
And how much is too much?
Do you need to sweat it out for an hour or more every day?
Let’s go over the (sometimes) mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness. Ideal for getting into shape.
Starting with the minimum.
What's the minimum amount of exercise?
Of course, you’re going to have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there is no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, and become a reason you just throw in the towel.
So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend ten to twenty minutes every other day at a level you think you can do? How does that sound as a starting point?
Pretty do-able, I’d say!
If you’re not training for a competition, you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this plan.
It’s going to take longer, I’m not gonna lie. But that time is going to pass anyway, so when the next season comes around wouldn’t you want to be proud of your improved strength and fitness?
Yes, I thought so!
There is such thing as too much
We've all seen the popular reality TV show where contestants are trained to within an inch of their lives and pushed with a 'no pain no gain' approach. This type of training is good for TV ratings, but does not produce sustainable long term results in most people.
Pushing your body too hard not only results in eventually wanting to throw your sneakers in the bin and hit the couch with a tub of Ben n Jerry's, it can also be detrimental to your health in many ways, such as increasing your stress hormones which wreak havoc on your organs and also mental health. So if you're stopping mid-run to throw up, or in agony for a week after a workout, you're overdoing it!
For the average person trying to lose weight and get healthy, we don't need to approach exercise in the same way as an elite athlete. Instead of thinking all-or-nothing, just aim to move your body every day in some way, shape or form. And try to make it fun!
How to design your exercise plan
Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).
Always consider what is reasonably sustainable for you, based on:
● What is your long-term fitness goal?
● What else is going on in your life (i.e. how much time do you really have)?
● What is your current state of fitness?
But don’t stop there!
As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it will start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go. Every week do something to push yourself a bit farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition or grab the next heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, and/or faster.
A great motivational tool is to log your workouts. A simple notepad or workbook (or app) will do! Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.
Tracking devices such as a pedometer, Garmin or Fitbit can really help increase motivation as you strive to beat your own personal best.
After several weeks you can stop and evaluate. Keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger, and more fit!
Don't forget your nutrition
While exercise is very, very good for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.
Some of my favourite super-simple tips that give you the biggest “bang for your buck” are:
● Eat more vegies
● Swap soft drinks for fruit-infused water
● Cut your treats and sweets in half (and hide half) before indulging
● Reduce the serving size of your main meals (try using a smaller plate)
● Eat slower and savour it more by chewing each bite of food more thoroughly
● Carry around healthy (unsweetened fibre-rich) snacks like nuts, fruit and berries
You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! But you do need to do the following:
● Start from where you are, and don’t go overboard.
● If you’re a beginner, that means 10 - 20 minutes every other day at an easy level.
● Log your workout progress to track improvements and keep motivated.
● Slowly increase the difficulty every week as you get stronger and fitter.
● Don’t forget to eat your veggies, reduce your serving sizes (especially treats) and carry around healthy snacks.
● Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program.
● Make an appointment to chat with me (your weight loss coach) on how I can support you getting into shape.