What exactly is “staying in shape?” Does exercising twice a week with the same intensity as four times a week elicit the same results? A common concern about exercise is that if you don’t keep up with it consistently, you won’t see any physical gains; however, the number of days a week you should exercise depends on the type of results you’re looking for.
First, getting some type of physical activity each day will help improve your overall health. Recently, Business Insider interviewed Rutgers University exercise scientist Shawn Arent about exercise frequency and how often we should work out to stay in shape. Getting moving is the first step towards improving on your health, but according to Arent, you won’t see much difference unless you begin exercising “a minimum of three days a week as a structured exercise program.”
But there may not be an actual “magic number” for staying in shape. Different fitness programs will require different frequencies depending on your goals.
Most experts will say that if you weight train consecutively throughout the week, you’re more at risk to overstress your muscles. Each time you work out, your muscle fibers experience some wear and tear. Your muscles require 24-48 hours to heal and repair when weight training, so a general rule of thumb is to build in rest days to your training program if you’re looking to gain strength.
Alternatively, cardiovascular workouts can occur more often, such as three to five days a week for 20- to 60-minutes. Cardio exercises get your heart and lungs pumping to help you burn calories for weight loss. Activities such as a brisk walk, swimming, or low-impact aerobics won’t strain your muscles as much, so you can participate more frequently. Alternating cardio workouts with your strength training can also help burn more calories when you are working towards weight loss.
One study says that it may not matter how often you work out as long as your cumulative exercise for the week totals 150 minutes. In this particular study published in the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, researchers found that the total amount, type, and intensity of physical activity had a greater affect on your body than frequency.
How many days a week do you find time to exercise – and what type of exercise do you engage in? Share your physical fitness stories with us on our Facebook page.