You likely know that exercise is important. But how much do you need, exactly? And how do you stay motivated if exercise itself seems like a chore? If these are questions you have, here’s a quick breakdown so you can truly begin making exercise work for you.
How Much Exercise Do We Need?
General guidelines recommend that most adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. This can vary per person, but it’s a good guideline. Here’s a quick guide to exercise intensities:
- During strenuous exercise, you’re able to say a few words out loud but then have to pause to take a breath. Running or jogging, swimming, high intensity interval training, and aerobic dancing all count as strenuous.
- During moderate exercise, you’re able to talk without much problem. Brisk walking, gardening, mowing the lawn, weight lifting, or playing golf are all moderate.
- During light exercise, you’re able to talk and even sing. This could be everyday chores like putting away groceries, washing dishes, slow walking, or stretching.
If you do mostly light exercise, keep it up and see if you can add in some moderate movement. If you’re pressed for time and enjoy higher intensity, shorter but strenuous exercises could be helpful for you.
This also includes strength training at least twice a week—which could be free weights or weight machines at the gym, doing bodyweight exercises like pushups, or even weight-bearing and resistance activities like rowing or rock climbing.
Getting Motivated to Exercise
If you’re still struggling to exercise despite knowing the above information, it might be time to take a look at other factors getting in your way.
Life stressors: Added stress can lead to low energy, lack of motivation, and more. If stress is prevalent in your life, try adding more mind-body practices to your day, such as a few minutes of meditation or journaling, and look at your priorities. What are some areas where you can say “no” in order to make more time for YOU?
Pinpoint the areas of stress in your life, and acknowledge anything you can discard to make things easier on you. In addition, know that any type of extra movement can help relieve daily stress!
Unbalanced diet: If what we’re eating isn’t already giving us the energy to fuel our day, it’s going to be difficult to find energy for exercise, too. Examining your current diet to see what might be lacking, such as fruits and vegetables, can go a long way. Adding a high-quality multivitamin can help fill in the gaps, too.
Lack of sleep: Being sleep-deprived affects just about everything—from mood to memory to daily motivation. But consider this: regular exercise may help you sleep better, even if you’re not yet sleeping enough each night. Give it a try and see what a difference it can make.
Lack of time: This is probably the number one reason exercise doesn’t happen for most people. However, it usually just comes down to the belief that working out is something tiring and unpleasant—so it’s hard to find the motivation to add it to your schedule.
Thankfully, exercise can be enjoyable! But if it doesn’t feel that way yet, start small. Think about movement-based activities you enjoy and add them to your schedule a couple of times a week. Work up from there, and see how you feel.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the best exercise for you is the kind you can enjoy and that you can continue doing over the long-term. Once you find that, it’s easier to increase exercise to fit within the daily guidelines. Start small, listen to your body, and remember that you’re doing something good for your mind, body and soul.