How much should we be exercising

I exercise most days of the week, some days my rest days are active rest days consisting of a stretching yoga class. I like love to exercise, and have come to rely on the happy feeling it gives me to be my most patient self (insert more patient with my children). But does everyone NEED to exercise 6 days a week? How much should we be exercising?

I thought it would be a good idea to talk about what the “guidelines” (remember they are guidelines and ultimately you need to do what works for you and your body) for the beginner, intermediate and advanced exerciser.

The guidelines for the Beginner Exerciser (very low to low fitness level) are:

Exercise program focus is on improving one’s health profile, increasing energy, making activities of daily life easier and most often weight reduction
Cardiovascular exercise 1-3 times/week for 15-30 min, at an intensity of 55-64% of HRmax
Types of cardiovascular exercise recommended are walking, stationary biking, swimming, water aerobics, and basic fitness classes.
The beginner exerciser is looking to learn proper technique, correct exercises, developing core strength, and gaining muscular endurance with their resistance training
Resistance Training is recommended 2-3 times per week (12-15 reps, 1-3 sets, 30-60 sec of rest)
Resistance equipment recommended are weight training machines (like the FIT FIX), body weight exercises, and stability ball.
For example, a 34 year old beginner exerciser’s regime might look like: walking for 20-30 min 3 times a week ( heart rate target 102-120 bbm), and doing full body, body weight exercises twice a week.

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The guidelines for the Intermediate Exerciser (average fitness level) are:

the cardiovascular program focus here is variety and the “text book” says weight reduction. I disagree, with the weight reduction, I think there a lot of individuals of average fitness that don’t necessarily need to lose weight but are looking to feel better and get “fitter”. I am not a fan of the “weight” focus.
Cardiovascular exercise 3-5 times per week, for 20-45 min, at an intensity of 65-74% HRmax
Types of cardiovascular exercise recommended are stair climbing, treadmill, fitness classes, cycling classes, cross-training
The intermediate exerciser is looking to refine technique, learning new exercises, developing core strength, and gaining muscular strength with their resistance training.
Resistance Training is recommended 3-4 times per week (8-12 reps, 1-4 sets, 30sec-2min rest)
Resistance equipement recommended are weight training machines, pulleys, free weights, body weight exercises, stability ball
For example, a 34 year old intermediate exerciser’s regime might look like this: running 2 times per week for 30-45 min (target HR of 120-138), full body resistance training with free weights and stability ball 3 times a week with 20 min of cardio afterwards (or mixed into the resistance workout, for a circuit style workout).

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The guidelines for the Advanced Exerciser (above average fitness level) are:

the cardiovascular program focus here is increased oxygen delivery and extraction, weight maintenance, sport training, and competition
Cardiovascular exercise is 4-6 times per week, for 40-60 min, at an intensity of 75-90% of HRmax
Types of cardiovascular exercise are complex movements, sports, cross-training, and interval training
The advanced exerciser is focused on exercise variety, increasing muscular size, maximizing core strength, and maximizing training time in their resistance training
Resistance Training is recommended 4-6 times per week, (1-8 reps, 1-6 sets, 2+min rest)
Equipment recommended: weight training machines, pulleys, free weights, bodyweight exercises, stability ball, medicine ball
For example, a 35 year old advanced exerciser training for a marathon’s exercise regime might look like: running 4 days a week (tempo runs, hill training, speed work, long slow runs), full body weight training 2 times a week with free weights and weight machines, doing a core conditioning class 2 times a week, yoga once a week, and resting one day week.
All that to say, that the take home message is that you really do need a mix of cardiovascular and resistance training in your exercise regime. I also think that stretching (flexibility) training is something you should do after every exercise session.
As you get fitter and advance you exercise more, (I think you also crave it!) and although the guidelines look daunting its amazing how you can mix it up and make it fit into your week.
Have any questions, make sure to post them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them.
*HRmax= 220-age

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