How Much Exercise Is Enough?

How often should I exercise? How many times a week should I do it and how long should each session last? These are some of the questions I get from people all the time. We know that exercise is good for us, and we want to do it. But sometimes we are not sure whether we are doing too much or too little.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

How much exercise should you be doing on a weekly basis? Well, the answer depends on your fitness goal. What do you want to achieve with your exercise training? Different people exercise for different reasons. Therefore, your training goal should determine your training volume.

Be Clear About Your Training Goal

Like I did mention earlier, your training goal should dictate how much exercise you do. So I ask you again, what is your training goal? Why are you exercising? What do you want your exercise to do for you? What benefits are you looking for from your exercise? You must be clear about your goal.

 Let’s look at the common fitness goals and how much exercise each goal requires:

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The Five Common Goals

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    To gain health benefits of exercise
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    To improve fitness
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    To lose weight
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    To maintain current weight and prevent weight gain
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    To train for a particular fitness event

Goal #1-To Gain Health Benefits of Exercise

From improved heart health to decreased risk of cancer, research has shown that regular exercise offers numerous health benefits. There are people whose fitness goal is to gain the basic health benefits of exercise. They are not looking for anything extra; they just want to reduce their risks of having lifestyle related diseases and stay healthy.

How Much Exercise Do People In This Category Need?

Those whose training goal is to gain health benefits of exercise should aim for 120-150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week.

How to meet the recommendation: Do 30 minutes moderate intensity exercise 4-5 days per week, or 25 minutes vigorous intensity exercise 3 days per week.

Goal #2-To Improve Physical Fitness

There are five health-related components of physical fitness (cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and flexibility), and each of them can be improved.

Some people can't can't walk for 5 minutes without getting out of breath (lack of cardio-respiratory fitness), and there are those who can't bend to touch their toes (lack of flexibility).

Also, there are people whose body composition is out of balance (too much fat mass and less muscle mass, or less muscle mass and less fat mass). There are those who can run for Africa but can’t do five consecutive push-ups. And there are those who can lift Olumo rock but can’t run 200 meters without stopping to catch their breath.

For a healthy balance, it is important that one possesses a certain amount of fitness across all five components of health-related physical fitness.

How Much Exercise Do People In This Category Need?

Individuals whose training goal is to improve physical fitness should aim for 180-300 minutes moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per week.

How to meet the recommendation: Perform 40-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise 4-6 days per week.



Be sure to incorporate exercise formats that will improve all the five components of physical fitness into your training program.

Do strength training 2-3 times/week to improve muscular strength and endurance. Do stretching exercises 3-5 times/week to improve flexibility. And jog/run, bike, dance, or swim 3-5 times/week to improve cardiorespiratory fitness.

Please, note that you can train all five components in one training session.

You don't necessarily need to train individual components on separate days. You can do cardio, strength, and flexibility in one training session. This type of training is referred to as concurrent training. 

Exercise formats like Circuit Training and High Intensity Interval Training are a form of concurrent training because they allow you to incorporate all the major components of fitness in one session.

Goal #3: To Lose Weight (Fat)

This is the number one reason many people exercise. They want to reduce their fat mass and increase lean tissue (muscle mass). That’s all they want!

There is nothing wrong with having this as your only goal as long as you understand that exercise alone is not enough. Weight loss is not just about how many days you exercise in a week, or how long and hard you exercise per session. Your nutrition habits have the most impact on your body composition. Eighty percent of your success is going to come from your food.

How Much Exercise Do People In This Category Need?

The recommendation for Goal #2 applies to this group too.


Weight loss is about changing body composition, which is one of the five components of health-related physical fitness. And like I mentioned before, exercise is just one part of the equation; the food part of the equation is also important. 

As you follow the exercise recommendation, make sure you also have your nutrition under control.

Goal #4: To Maintain Current Weight

Some people have reached their weight loss goal, and they just want to continue to keep fit without losing any more weight. They have tasted the benefits of exercise, they have seen how great it is to be fit and healthy, and they want to keep the lifestyle.

How Much Exercise Do People In This Category Need?

If you are one of such people, you may consider following the recommendation for Goal #2. And if you to love to challenge yourself, you may want to consider signing up for a fitness event. Training for a particular event will not only give your exercise training a purpose, but it can also open you up to new fitness adventures.

Further recommendations

Since your goal is to maintain your current weight, you will need to pay attention to your nutrition at this stage and fuel your body according to your physical activity level. Consider having pre/post workout meals on your training days, and make sure you are getting enough calories on a daily basis.

Keep a balance and enjoy your new life.

Goal #5: Training for a particular event

If your training goal is to participate in a particular fitness event, then your exercise training should mimic the event/game. Research the type and volume of training required for the event and train accordingly.

Keep improving, keep setting new goals.

Now that you know how much exercise is enough for your current fitness goal, continue to improve your physical fitness and don’t be afraid to set new fitness goals.

About the Author

Hello, I’m Esta Morenikeji. I am the Founder and CFO of ZONE FITNESS (No, not that CFO, this one: Chief Fitness Officer). I’m your Fitfriend who writes most of the stuff on this website. Feel free to connect with me on Instagram.

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