Only 25 percent of Americans meet the daily recommendations for exercise. Thus, one in four of us performs a 20-minute high-intensity cardiovascular workout three days per week, or a 30 minute cardiovascular workout five days per week. One in four of us performs resistance training, or weight-lifting exercises, three days a week.
The other 75 percent just can’t make the commitment, understandably so. Exercise is another thing to do this week. Another task to complete after work or school, in addition to, our other priorities.
To me, getting regular exercise can be quite intimidating.
Let’s see, three cardiovascular and three resistance training workouts… That’s six workouts a week… Times 20-30 minutes, is 2-3 hours of exercise this week. Oh wait, this week NFL football starts, family members are coming in town, the kids have homework they need help with, and I have a project due.
How in the world am I supposed to meet these recommendations, much less do it weekly?
First, take a deep breath. (Actually, I just had to, thinking about my schedule this week).
I want you to think about “exercise portion control.”
Eating is something we can all identify with. Typically, we eat three large meals a day. This schedule is fairly convenient because we wake up a few minutes early for breakfast, have a lunch break, and eat again after work or school.
While this is okay, eating three large meals a day is not optimal.
Preferably, you should try to break up your meals throughout the day. Breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and after dinner healthy treat. Smaller more frequent portions are better.
Actually, you can exercise the same way!
For many of us, it is not practical to spend an hour or more on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to exercise. So break it up into reasonable portions, as you can your meals.
Let’s look at the overall goals.
First, you have two options for cardio workouts. One, you can plan three 20 minute “high-intensity” cardiovascular workouts. This means you are sweating a lot if you are working hard enough. (No, sitting in chair in 100 degree heat, doesn’t count…) Thus, we are looking at a total of 60 minutes per week. While you can’t combine all three workouts into one, and say, do a 60 minute workout one day a week, you can break this up.
Let’s say you do 20 minutes on Monday. You feel great, it’s Monday, and you are committed. But Wednesday rolls around, and your scheduled cardio is on the back burner, and you still owe yourself 40 minutes of cardio. Well, do 10 minutes Wednesday, 10 minutes Thursday and try for 20 again Friday. Or you can do 20 minutes Monday, 10 minutes Wednesday, 20 minutes Thursday and 10 or more on Friday or Saturday. Try to at least get two good 20 minute workouts, because we don’t want to stretch it too much.
A second option is to choose moderate-intensity cardio exercise 30 minutes a day, five days per week. Moderate intensity is you are “breaking a sweat and breathing faster.” Not necessarily drenching and really pushing yourself like the high-intensity workouts. That’s 150 total minutes. You can break this regimen up however you want. For example, Monday do 30 minutes. Tuesday do 10 minutes in the AM, walk the stairs at lunch, and 10 in the PM. Wednesday do one 30 minute workout. Thursday 20 minutes in the AM and 10 minutes in the PM. Finally, Friday do 10 minutes in the AM, and 20 minutes during lunch.
When broken up, it doesn’t seem that daunting.
Now, with resistance training, you can think the same way.
Each week, you should perform 20-30 resistance training exercises. You can choose to do 2-3 workouts of 10 exercises each, or do 4-6 workouts of 5 exercises each. Just make sure that you do not work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
For example, Monday, do 5 upper body exercises. Tuesday do 4 lower body exercises and one core exercise. Then, Wednesday do 5 more upper body exercises, etc.
Feel free to alter your schedule however you want to meet your needs.
In the end… Just sweat… That’s all…