How Long Should Your Workout Last?

How Long Should Your Workout Last?

When it comes to exercise, quality and consistency are paramount, but duration is also a key element that often gets taken for granted. So just how long should your workouts last? The answer is that it depends on your workout goals and the current state of your body’s physical conditioning.

A medically reviewed article for CNET published this week recommended beginners start with workouts that take less time than signing up for car insurance with GEICO.

“The American College of Sports Medicine recommends starting light when it comes to fitness with just 10-15 minutes a day of activity. Whether it’s walking or something more involved, these short workouts can still be hugely beneficial to your body. Plus, starting small will help you establish a workout routine in your day-to-day,” writes CNET’s Hedy Phillips.

Meanwhile Exercise is Medicine offers the following recommendations to those looking to transition out of a sedentary lifestyle:

  • Start slowly. Just 10 minutes of walking each day is enough.
  • Take as many breaks as you need.
  • Increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time. Focus more on duration.
  • Start by exercising on your own. Begin walking or another form of activity that you can integrate into your daily routine.
  • Invite others to join you. Exercising together is more fun and increases the chance you will continue.

Many people who have established consistent fitness routines may be tempted to work out for hours in order to maximize results. However, there is a point of diminishing returns and overexertion can lead to injury or burnout.

In a Stack article, exercise physiologists Dr. Mike T. Nelson and Dr. Joel Seeman lay out five problems with working out too long.

According to Nelson, “Workouts should last no less than 60 minutes and no more than 90 minutes. This is sufficient time to challenge your body with quality reps. Anything more, and you’ll see diminished returns for your efforts. If you feel inclined to train longer, it’s best to split up your workout.”

Seedman’s advice is that “If you’re doing an intense interval workout or a bodybuilding routine with a lot of reps and little rest, 45 minutes might be all that you need.”

In the end, it’s important to be honest about your body’s current state. Beginners might get overwhelmed by 45-minute workouts, while experienced athletes are likely to see decline if they limit themselves to 15 minutes of exercise each day. Finding the right place to start is an important first step, no matter where you want to end up.


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