How Much, How Often

If you are a busy mom running around after a toddler all day you probably get all the exercise you need. But if you are an office worker who drives to work and always takes the elevator you know you could be fitter.

But how often should you exercise? Is it better for example to do one session of 40 minutes a day or two sessions of 20 minutes each?

Just Beginning

It is better to start small if you are just getting started on an exercise program and are pretty unfit. Start with even 10 minutes a day. That's a quick walk around the park, or popping to the local shop up to half a mile away instead of taking the car. Add exercise into your daily routine for example by taking the stairs instead of the elevator if you are only going up a few floors.
To feel the benefit you need to do a minimum of 10 minutes moderate exercise at one time, building up to a total of two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week. Exercise at least three times a week i.e. every other day and you will start to notice the difference. If you prefer more vigorous exercise you need to do at least one and a quarter hours total in a week.

It's not only the length of time that you exercise but the intensity that you do it. Moderate exercise is when you can still talk but not sing while you are exercising. Vigorous exercise is when you have to stop to catch your breath. And remember as you exercise regularly you will get fitter and will find you can do more exercise, more easily.

So Which Is Better?

If you enjoy swimming, going to a public pool for only twenty minutes, especially twice a day, would be a hassle for most people. Far better to go for a forty minutes work out. By varying your exercise in the pool from timed laps (vigorous) to some water aerobics (moderate) you can easily meet the fitness guidelines. Remember 1 minute of vigorous exercise is equivalent to 2 minutes of moderate exercise. Of course if you have your own pool or there is one at work, then you can do some timed laps every day!

If you enjoy walking then why not take a brisk walk for 20 minutes to get to the train station to go to work or walk the kids to school and back home again in the evening. That way you are incorporating exercise into your daily life. If you have a dog, then walking your dog twice a day for twenty minutes at a time will help you get fit. Of course as you get fitter increase the time to 1/2hr or more and your body and your dog will be very happy indeed.

If you like dancing you could just dance around your bedroom for half an hour pretending to be Kylie Minogue but you'd probably prefer to go out for the whole evening. Ballroom dancing is considered moderate exercise, but if you are doing hip-hop that can get pretty vigorous. And if you think that it's not really exercise look at how great Kelly Osbourne looks now after her Dancing With The Stars debut. She is rumored to have lost over 30lbs during the series.

The main thing is to enjoy your exercise - every little bit helps - and incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Check out the rest of this section for more tips.

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