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Feb 26, 2011

How Long Should Cardiovascular Exercise Workouts Be?

Most experts recommend 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise three or four days a week, along with two or three days of weight-bearing, resistance exercise (such as weight lifting or working with bands).You can work out more often, but most people see results with working out three times a week.

This question is simply answered, but maybe not as simple to do. It is all too easy to feel you should start your weekend with housework rather than exercise: family members may need your attention at times you’ve planned to be exercising.
Children may want your help with homework or school projects, someone needs to fix dinner, and there’s always laundry to be done. At work, you may have to attend meetings at lunchtime, or stay late until all you want to do is crawl into bed as soon as you get home. In fact, it may seem like everything and everyone in your life is conspiring to keep you from exercising!
Many people say they would exercise more if they could only find the time, and timing is crucial for many would-be exercisers. The moment passes, other demands are met, and the needs of your body are pushed aside for more urgent (but not necessarily more important) activities.
So, what can you do to make sure you get the aerobic exercise you deserve?
First of all, you might start by reminding yourself of the health benefits you can expect to derive from aerobic exercise. You may have a very specific goal directly related to something in particular about your health. For example, your doctor may have ordered you to change your exercise habits to lower your cholesterol, to fight depression, or to lose weight for your overall health. Knowing that aerobics is an important part of accomplishing you goal, it should be at least as important in your schedule as planning a meal or attending a PTA meeting. For many people, getting regular exercise needs to be identified as a real priority, not an occasional whim or a treat. The same way we teach ourselves to brush our teeth twice a day, we can teach ourselves to exercise; with patience, persistence, and practice.
For example, today I planned to write fifteen pages of this manuscript, buy a few groceries, and do all the laundry my family didn’t get done this weekend. I could easily convince myself that I don’t have time for a half-hour of aerobic exercise. However, I am also aware of how I feel when I don’t exercise: my back aches, I have trouble sleeping, my clothes don’t fit right, and I feel guilty when I eat. On the plus side, when I exercise, I feel healthier and stronger, the aches and pains disappear, my outlook is brighter, and I have fun. I don’t even feel guilty if I want to eat dessert. Down the road, I may be preventing heart disease, even cancer by my half-hour workout. So, is it worth it for me to skip it?
On a busy day, I may have to go through those reasons a couple of times to remind myself how important my workout really is. But focusing on the reward helps a lot. You may want to do the same thing by making a list of the things you expect to get from exercising: post it someplace where you can see it every day, like on the fridge, or on your desk at work.
Working out is an individual thing: what works well for one person may not be at all useful for someone else. You have to consider your lifestyle, your health needs, any previous injuries, and your likes and dislikes when planning your workout. If you hate to bicycle, buying an exercycle probably won’t increase your willingness to find time for exercise. If they gym’s forty minutes away, you’ll probably be less likely to attend than you would if there’s a gym on your route to work. Don’t just grit your teeth and do it; make it as pleasant and convenient as you can to get the maximum benefits from your new exercise regime.

Do What’s Easy

You don’t need complicated machines or routines to get what you need from aerobic exercise. If you love to use a high-tech rowing machine or the treadmill with the computerized calorie-burning calculator, go for it, but unless you really enjoy a particular machine, you don’t have to fork out any money for special accessories. You need a pair of decent, supportive shoes and thirty to forty-five minutes, at least three times a week. Keep it simple! Stretch and warm up. Walk, run, or leap around in front of your favorite TV show. Cool down. You’re done.


We have seen workers in industries like asset protection management having a tough time committing to their workouts so we asked them to consider combining their exercise with other activities. Ride a stationary bike while reading a book you’ve wanted to read but haven’t had time for. Start a walking club at work as a way to combat stress and get acquainted with other people. Take your dog jogging, or push the baby’s stroller with more verve than you’ve usually used on your walks. Learn to dance and take your sweetheart dancing. Incorporate your exercise into the rest of your life, whenever possible making it part of something that you look forward to.

With Other People

Sometimes it’s much easier to exercise with a buddy than it is to go it alone. Make a limited partnership for exercise by arranging to walk with someone else greatly lowers the chance of backing out. For one thing, you are less likely to find other things to do when someone else is depending on you. Furthermore, walking doesn’t feel as much like “exercise” as it feels like fun time spent walking and talking with a friend. Time moves more quickly, it’s easier to keep a good pace, and it’s safer than walking alone.

Pass It On

Get your family in on the act by planning family hikes in local parks, or picnics that require a good walk to get to the beach or playground. Plant a garden and keep it weeded. Play ball, tennis or Frisbee with your children; take them rockhounding or to the beach to build sandcastles or swim. Roller-skate, ice skate, go canoeing. Buy an aerobics tape and encourage your small children to work out with you. Be creative!
Even when you aren’t involved in aerobic exercise, getting the family outside to play increases the chance that your children will enjoy spending time outside. They will be more likely to find their own ways to exercise rather than spending their time in front of the TV or computer.

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