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
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
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
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
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
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.
Continue reading the next aerobics article on best time to exercise
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