By: Bruce and Ryan Burke

Are you exercising as frequently as you should be? Do you know what is most appropriate given your fitness level and goals? Exercise frequency is an important part of everyone’s exercise prescription and must be addressed intelligently.

In order to determine what is best for you, you must first have a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want to change your body composition?  Improve your sports performance? Maybe you just want to have the ability to live an active lifestyle. Like anything else, you can’t create a roadmap without knowing where you want to go.

When addressing exercise frequency, you must have a clear understanding of what can be considered as exercise for you. A long walk might count for someone with a low/moderate fitness level, but not for someone more fit who is looking for body composition changes.

In 2009, we authored a chapter in “The Praeger Handbook of Sports Medicine and Athlete Health.” It describes One on One’s position on exercise frequency (as well as intensity) quite well.

In case you don’t follow the link, the take-away from the new guidelines is simple…more is better! Here is a quote from the ACSM/AHA 2007 update:

“More is better” – The new recommendation emphasizes the important fact that physical activity above the recommended minimum amount provides even greater health benefits. The point of maximum benefit for most health benefits has not been established but likely varies with genetic endowment, age, sex, health status, body composition, and other factors. Exceeding the minimum recommendation further reduces the risk of inactivity-related chronic disease. Although the dose-response relation was acknowledged in the 1995 recommendation, this fact is now explicit.

Finally, we want to stress again the importance of having your fitness goals determine your exercise frequency. If your goal is to lose weight, exercising 2 or 3 days a week isn’t going to get it done. If that is all you can commit to, you need to change your goals and practice acceptance.  As long as you are giving it your best shot, accept that your best is good enough and be happy with the positive benefits of exercising 3 times per week. Also, remember to use good time management strategies to ensure that you are fitting an appropriate amount of exercise into your schedule.

This week, review your goals and commitments. Are they well-defined? Realistic? Documented? Does your exercise frequency give you your best shot at achieving those goals? If not, make this the week that you recommit to your fitness program and achieve the results you are looking for.