How much exercise do we need?

It’s a big mystery: do we need to work out every day? Or is the magic number 4 or 5 times a week? Does it do any good to work out once in a while?

Answer: it depends on your goal

If your goal is to lose weight, then any exercise you do will help to burn calories and help you achieve that goal, no matter how little. Cardio/aerobic exercise burns more calories than resistance training, however, having more lean muscle (which is what you get when you do resistance training like barre) helps you burn more calories overall. Your body uses calories every second of the day to function, which is called your resting metabolic rate, or simply your “metabolism,” and when you have more muscle, your metabolism increases.

So, if you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat, and the more exercise you do, the more calories you will burn. Don’t reward yourself with food for exercising though, because you can eat all the calories you burn during a workout in one pumpkin spice latte. I know…depressing.

If your goal is to achieve a toned look, then you’ll need to do resistance training that significantly challenges your muscles. Barre is your friend! Unfortunately things like running, walking and other forms of cardio don’t typically challenge your muscles enough to get toned.

If you are wanting to improve your health, your energy level and/or your cardiovascular fitness, data shows that you need to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise, per week.

So intensity is important. You must be working hard enough so that your heart rate/breathing increases. If you are breathing hard but could still hold a conversation, you are probably working at moderate intensity. If you could not comfortably hold a conversation, you are probably working at high intensity.

The shortest duration that “counts” for moderate intensity exercise is 10 minutes, while even 1 minute of high intensity exercise can be beneficial toward improving aerobic capacity. If you do resistance training and that increases your heart rate/breathing, as it often does, those minutes count too. 

This is why we incorporate high intensity cardio intervals into our Splendid Barre classes. That way you’ll be sure to get a workout that can improve your cardiovascular fitness, your health and your energy level. It also helps you burn more calories.

If barre is a moderate intensity workout for you, then you’ll meet the recommendation by taking class 3 times a week. If it can be high intensity, you can get away with even less.

Notice that nowhere in this scientific explanation did I say you need to work out every day. If that feels good to you, go for it. But be careful not to overuse your joints. Once you have an overuse injury you may have to stop exercising altogether, so listen to your body. This is also why Splendid Barre instructors are highly trained in proper form, and go to great lengths to help people do exercises in the safest way.

In the comments, let me know, what is your main reason for exercising? Does the information in this article surprise you? Will it change how often you exercise?