How many days per week you should exercise? It’s an age old question. It’s worth revisiting because it’s also very important to your fitness in different ways.

Stating the obvious, there’s no one answer that’s going to work for everyone. The right number of exercise days is what’s right for you. The right number of days are the number of days you can exercise consistently. There are a few guidelines we know.

Your body needs rest days to recuperate. Recuperation is as important as stimulation. The guideline for rest days is at least 1-2 rest days per week. Rest days don’t mean be sedentary. They mean don’t have a heavy workout. Still, you can move and engage in light activity.

If you don’t exercise at all and you’re currently sedentary, you’ll see improvement exercising 1 or 2 days per week. You won’t improve for long on 1 or 2 days per week, however. 3 days a week is a standard amount of exercise days to get results. Probably the most popular days for exercise are Monday, Wednesday and Friday because it leaves the weekends free.

Working out 3 days per week, you can build up your fitness level and maintain it. If you are active and moving on the other days of the week you can reach a good level of fitness. It’s worth noting 75% of the U.S. population doesn’t exercise consistently at all. If you’re consistently working out 3 days per week congratulations!

Should you do more than 3 days per week? If you want to improve your fitness, you’re going to want to exercise more than 3 days per week. Try working out 4 days per week. See how it works for you. Try working out 5 days per week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio and two total-body strength-training sessions per week. Five workouts of 30 minutes each is very manageable and something most people can do consistently.

To lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests you increase the amount of moderate-intensity cardio you perform to 250 minutes or more per week. This amounts to 5 sessions of 50 minutes each. You should still add the strength-training workout to two of these workout days to help you build lean muscle.

The key to exercise is consistency. Figure out the number of days per week you can exercise consistently. There’s more to it than just the exercise. You must travel to the gym. You need your workout clothes. You have other people you’re responsible for and you have things to do. It all has to tailor to your lifestyle. Working out 4 days per week consistently is significantly better than 5 or 6 days per week inconsistently.

For the coming year, try different numbers of days per week and see how it works for you. Try 4 days a week for a few months. Try 5 days a week for a few months. Find the optimum number of workout days that’s right for you.

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