How often should I exercise?

People often assume that the more intense and the faster they get into it, the better, which is wrong! Doing too much too soon or performing intense exercises on a daily basis can have negative effects such as blisters, fatigue, and muscle and tendon strains. 

The most important thing is to be consistent. A “stop-start” routine—one where you exercise one day and then don’t exercise again until several days, or weeks, later—is not only ineffective, but can cause injuries too.

If you are a beginner, start off slowly. Three days per week is realistic, safe and effective, with at least 30 minutes per session. Your goal is to exercise at least 30 minutes per day more days per week than not. This is a minimum. With how much the average teen sits per day, longer sessions and more frequent sessions are desirable. You also don’t need to do it all at once – you can get those 30 minutes stretched out over time. See Tips To Training.

When weight training, you need to vary the muscle groups that you work, so that you work your body evenly. The same muscle groups should only be targeted three times a week, with days in between workouts so muscles have time to recover. Exercise actually creates tiny tears in your muscles. As they heal, the fibers increase your muscle mass. When you do not give your body a chance to rest, your body does not get to heal and you won’t see the benefits. You can actually “over” train.

If you start today to improve your fitness, don’t get discouraged tomorrow when you aren’t looking the way you imagined. Your body is a living organism that will adapt to change, just not over night. It may be as long as six weeks before you notice any big results. You must remain patient, consistent and persistent and not expect to achieve your goals over night. 

You may also wish to think about HOW you train, tailoring your work outs according to the goals you wish to achieve. For instance, if you are looking to lose weight, you may want to increase the amount of cardiovascular exercise you perform as aerobic activity burns more calories than weight training or stretching (when comparing equal training times). Whereas, if you are looking to build muscles, you may want to focus more on weight training. If you want to train for soccer, you will want to work on your endurance and agility. Each sport has different demands and each person may have different goals. What are yours?

To maximize the benefits of your exercise routine, set goals for yourself, both in what you wish to achieve and how often you will train!

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