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Q & A:  How often should I exercise?

Almost everyone who joins 24/7 X-Press and begins an exercise program asks this question.  The answer of course “depends”.  It depends on your goals, how much time you have and have much motivation you have.  We'll go over some various scenarios in this issue of this newsletter.

Maintaining general fitness:  If your goal is just to maintain the fitness you have, then  three days of exercise per week can be enough, if you exercise 45-60 min each time you workout.    Your exercise sessions should include a cardiovascular aspect and a strength training component.  For cardio, this includes walking, running, biking, swimming and using the elliptical machines. (Be sure to see the note below about gaining access to the 7 Flags pool).    For strength training this can include using the weight machines, free weights such as dumbbells, bands and body weight exercises.  If you would like some ideas on how to create a strength training program, please contact us.  We 'strongly' recommend you do some strength training regardless of your age and goals.   Strength training builds or at least maintains your muscle mass.  As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass because we don't use our muscles as much.  It doesn't have to be this way.  Regular strength training can maintain and even build muscle mass as we age.   Maintaining muscle mass is important as it allows us to remain functional in our daily activities and it is metabolically active so we burn more calories with more muscle tissue.   Strength training is also great for maintaining our bone density.   We recommend for maintenance that you do at least three days of cardiovascular exercise per week, and at least two sessions of strength exercises per week.  A sample week might look like this:

Monday:  30 minutes cardiovascular exercise and 30 minutes of strength exercises
Wednesday:  45-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise
Saturday:   30 minutes cardiovascular exercise and 30 minutes of strength exercises

Improving Fitness and/or Losing Weight:  If you want to do more than maintain your current fitness, or if you want to lose weight, you can expect to exercise more than three times per week.  To improve your cardiovascular fitness, you should plan on doing some sort of cardiovascular exercise four to five times per week, for at least a half hour at a time.   You can also increase to rate of your improvement by increasing the intensity with which you exercise.  You can do this by increasing the speed if you are walking, biking or using an elliptical machine.  You can also increase the intensity by increasing the resistance.  If you are on a treadmill, you can increase the incline to make yourself work harder.  If you are on a bike or elliptical machine, you can increase the resistance, forcing you to work harder.  Don't forget to do strength training as well even if your goal is primarily cardiovascular fitness.  

If your goal is to lose weight, keep in mind that you need to create a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat.  This can come through a combination of eating less and exercising more.  Let's say you want to lose a pound per week, which is a respectable goal.  You can accomplish this by eating 1750 less calories per week and burning an additional 1750 calories from exercise.   If you are working hard you can expect to burn anywhere from 400-600 calories an hour doing cardiovascular exercise.  Burning off 1750 calories would require three to four hours of fairly intense exercise.  A sample week for improving fitness or losing weight might look like this:

Tuesday:  60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise
Thursday:  30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 30 minutes of strength training
Saturday:  60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise
Sunday:  30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 30 minutes of strength training
Athletic Training:  If your goal is to compete in an athletic event such as running 10K's or half marathons or marathons, your exercise becomes a training program and you can expect to train anywhere from five to six days per week, especially if you plan to be competitive.  But even if your goal is just to finish a marathon, that requires a substantial commitment in terms of time and effort you will need to put forward.  However, usually the motivation of the event is enough to keep you going. We still recommend that you do some strength exercises even if your goal to run a marathon.  Maintaining a strength program will help maintain balance in all parts of your body, especially if your sport is primarily a cardiovascular one such as running.  A training program is very specific to the sport so it's not possible to give an example week, but if you are interested in learning more about setting up a training program for a specific athletic event, you can contact David at the fitness center or call 515-689-1254.


Quick Fit Tip of the Month:  Sometimes the smallest things get in the way of exercising.  It's really easy to put off exercise because you forgot to pack your shoes or clothes.  If you have your clothes and shoes packed and ready to go, that's one less excuse.  Pack your bag or grab your workout clothes the night before and put it in your car so it's there when you need it.


David Ertl                                                                                            Angie Ertl
(515) 689-1254                                                                                   (515) 689-1255                                                       


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  The information and advice contained within this website are intended to supplement, not replace, a supervised training program.   Anyone beginning or enhancing an exercise program should consult with appropriate health and fitness professionals.   The reader, not the author, is responsible for any consequences resulting from the use of any and all information contained within this website.  Please ride responsibly and within your limits.