Gina, the taller person, in summer of 2015
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. Don’t be the person who goes “all-out” once then hurts too much to continue. If you start easier you won’t need as much recovery time and can get back to a workout again sooner.
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 got to get 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!
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:
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, further, 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. I like the Strava app because it syncs with my running watch, but there are many others.
Laying workout clothes out the night before can also help you prepare for a morning workout. Shoes, socks, sports bra, shorts (my running shorts have a built in liner) and t-shirt. Wake up, get dressed, drink water and go. I tend not to stretch until mu muscles have warmed up a little.
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 at least as much impact on your shape.
Some of my favorite super-simple tips that give you the biggest “bang for your buck” are:
You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! But you do need to do the following:
Gina in fall of 2019
Gina McCafferty is a licensed massage therapist, and heath coach who works with women in their peri and menopausal years who have 30 or more pounds to lose.