Living an active lifestyle has major physical and mental benefits, as increasing your heart rate and exercising your body regularly can reduce the risk of many types of diseases and health problems.
However, a 2020 YouGov survey found that on average a quarter of Britons (27%) do not manage a single 30-minute exercise session per week.
This is despite the fact that the NHS recommends that adults do some type of physical activity every day, from moderate activity, such as brisk walking, to vigorous activity, such as running.
But everyone has different needs and ability levels, so it can be difficult to know how much exercise you should be doing to reach your fitness goals.
Personal Trainer and Director of KMAK-FitnessKunal Makwana, tells The Independent what guidelines you can follow and apply to your training to achieve your fitness goals, while ensuring a balanced, safe and fun training program.
How many days a week should you exercise?
Although the NHS recommends doing physical activity every dayit doesn’t mean doing a 5k run or intense high-intensity workout every day.
Makwana says, “Ideally, you should try to train three to four times a week. If you can do a little more, so much the better. However, I don’t think you need more than that just because you need to spend time recovering.
You can also spread the exercise evenly throughout the week to avoid overdoing any vigorous activity and ensure you don’t injure yourself while exercising.
How long should your workouts last?
It’s a common misconception that you should exercise for long periods of time if you want to get fit. However, working out for too long can lead to fatigue, which can lead to injury if you’re too tired to perform an exercise with the correct form or equipment.
“Workouts should be no longer than 90 minutes,” advises Makwana.
“Ideally 60-90 minutes is enough if you are a busy professional. The focus should be on getting in and out rather than spending two to three hours, which won’t be productive for anyone in general, especially if you’re busy.
What’s a good way for a beginner to exercise?
According to Makwana, weight training is a great way to exercise if you’ve never worked out before. This is also known as resistance or strength training, and uses weights to build muscle strength.
However, beginners should not attempt to start strength training on their own.
“We recommend researching courses to get started,” says Makwana. “You can be introduced to communities, be introduced to new friends, and get some kind of direction all at the same time.”
Can you do strength training two or three days in a row?
It is not recommended to do multiple days of strength training as your muscles will need time between workouts to recover.
“We recommend having at least a one-day gap between workouts so you can recover more effectively, especially at the start of your journey,” says Makwana.
He advises mixing weight training with cardio exercises, although you don’t need to do cardio at the same time as weight training.
How important is sleep in your fitness routine?
“Sleep is 33% of your life,” says Makwana, adding, “Therefore, sleep is absolutely crucial to your recovery if you want to get stronger and better in your workouts.”
A disrupted sleep cycle can also lead to food cravings, which can hamper efforts to lose weight, he says.
Studies showed that being sleep deprived can alter levels of appetite hormones in the body, leading to increased hunger.
How can you make sure you’re seeing results from your exercise routine?
Once you’ve figured out your exercise goals and established a training program that’s right for you, Makwana says the best way to get results is to “gradually increase your load each week.”
It means “add an extra rep or add extra weight every week” which is the fastest way to improve your training and see results.
“You can really do this for years to get better with bodybuilding,” he adds.