In and Out Express Care

Hampton Roads Urgent Care Clinics

How Much Exercise Do I Really Need?

We all know we’re supposed to eat healthily and exercise. With today’s hectic lifestyles, that’s easier said than done. Between work, family, and community commitments, it’s easy to allow busy schedules and convenience to rule the day. However, we challenge every person to make their health a priority — so you can live life on your terms!

At In and Out Express Care, we treat some of our area’s elite athletes. Athletes like Sika Henry — two-time Champion of the One City Marathon, USA Triathlon All American, and Gold level IRONMAN 70.3 All World Athlete. Athletes like Christopher Stock, Carolyn Menker, and Adam Otstot — all sponsored local triathletes on the In and Out Express Care Racing Team.

These are people that are up before the sun to train and constantly push themselves to their limits.

Of course, we also treat people that are not top triathletes! People that are at varying levels of physical activity — from those who regularly stay active to those who need a little extra push to get going.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

“Enough” will be different for everyone. Some people exercise with specific goals in mind; for example, to lose five pounds, to run a marathon, to feel more energetic, to be able to keep up with young grandkids, etc. It is a good idea to consult your doctor so that any health conditions, concerns, or lifestyle factors can be taken into account. Together you can formulate the best exercise regimen to meet your goals.

As a general guideline, the CDC recommends that adults should engage in:

Aerobic exercise:

  • 2.5 – 5 hours a week of moderate aerobic exercise, or
  • 1.25 – 2.5 hours per week of vigorous aerobic exercise, or
  • An equivalent combination of the two (A vigorous exercise counts roughly the same as double the activity of moderate exercise. For example, 15 minutes of a vigorous exercise would be equivalent to 30 minutes of a moderate exercise.) 

Muscle-strengthening exercise:

  • 2 days of moderate to intense muscle-strengthening exercise

Following this recommendation, a sample exercise regimen for an average adult in a week might be:

  • Day 1: 30 minutes of brisk walking (moderate exercise)
  • Day 2: 15 minutes of power yoga (moderate exercise) + Weight lifting (muscle-building)
  • Day 3: 30 minutes of light yard work (moderate exercise)
  • Day 4: 15 minutes of leisurely biking (moderate exercise) + Push-ups (muscle-building)
  • Day 5: 30-minute kickboxing class (vigorous exercise)

If that seems like a lot to commit to, here’s the good news: you don’t have to be a top athlete or a fitness buff. ANY exercise is better than no exercise. Even five minutes of exercise has been shown to produce noticeable health benefits!

How Should I Get Started?

If you’re having trouble finding time to exercise, start small and slowly build up. You’d be surprised at the time you’ll find to sneak in some extra activity! Simple changes like taking the stairs or parking farther from the building’s entrance will let you get some extra walking in. How about doing squats at your desk? Or calf raises while brushing your teeth? Leg lifts during TV commercials? 30 seconds of jumping jacks with the kids? Whenever you’re sitting or standing still, consider if there’s some part of your body that could be moving.

Try to work in a few minutes of sustained activity (enough to raise your heart rate or your make your muscles work harder than usual) every day. Gradually increase as you are able.

Moderate Aerobic Exercise

To get started with moderate aerobic exercise, just put on your sneakers and get moving! Examples of moderate exercise are:

  • Brisk walking
  • Leisurely biking
  • Recreational swimming
  • Power yoga
  • Dancing
  • Light yard work (mowing the lawn)
  • Water aerobics

Vigorous Aerobic Exercise

As your conditioning improves (or if you want to spend less time exercising), up the intensity! Examples of vigorous exercise are:

  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Hiking uphill
  • High intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Kickboxing
  • Heavy yard work (shoveling heavy loads)
  • Biking over 10mph

Muscle-Strengthening Exercise

To give your muscles a workout, incorporate exercises such as:

  • Weight lifting
  • Resistance training
  • Calisthenics (push ups, pull ups, lunges, planks)
  • Carrying heavy loads

Can I Exercise TOO Much?

We’ve talked about overtraining for athletes. This is all too common for those who are training for an event or competition. Pushing too hard will actually backfire, and athletes need to balance training and recovery in order to both maximize their results and avoid potential injury.

What if you’re not a triathlete? Can you still overexercise? 

Since most Americans don’t get enough exercise, the idea of overexercising is not often discussed. But for people that are dedicated to living active lifestyles, yes, it can easily happen.

The CDC states that there is no specific upper limit of exercise at which you don’t get health benefits. You may read that and believe that there’s no such thing as too much exercise! But taking that statement at face value doesn’t tell the whole story. 

Dangers of Overexercise

When you exercise too much, you place undue stress on the body. Exercise at the core is exactly that — stress on the body’s systems (muscular, skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, etc). After being stressed, the body needs time to recover. Plus, during rest is when your muscles, tissues, and bones rebuild, growing stronger. If you exercise too much and don’t rest enough, your body remains stressed. This can have unintended consequences.

Signs You’re Overexercising 

So how do you know if you’re exercising too much? Here are some common signs:

  • Overuse injuries (stress fractures, muscle strains)
  • Persistent muscle soreness that doesn’t go away
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression

As you can see, the consequences of overexercise are not just physical. The stress hormones that are released when we’re emotionally stressed are also released when our body is physically stressed, causing the psychological changes listed above. Since many people exercise to improve mental health, the last thing you want is the complete opposite effect! 

How Do I Correct Overexercising?

We work with athletes to formulate plans of active recovery during their training — meaning, taking time to recover while still maintaining a reduced, but beneficial, level of activity, to help the body heal.

The same concept can also apply to anyone else who may be overexercising! Cut back on your exercise. You don’t need to stop completely, but doing low-intensity activities like walking will keep you active without placing more undue stress on the body. 

In general, nurture your body — keep it hydrated, give it healthy food, perhaps get a massage or two.

Once your body has had time to recover, start building back up again to a regular routine, but tweak it so you don’t fall into the same trap. If you suffered an injury from overexercising or overtraining, you may need to switch the type of exercises to prevent long-term damage to that area.

We’re rooting for you!

Whether you’re an elite athlete, fitness buff, working parent, or couch potato, we’re here to help! We want you to get and stay as healthy as possible. Come in and see the friendly docs at In and Out Express Care to work out an exercise routine that will help you reach your goals. Your body will love you for it!

If you’re an athlete and have a questions about training or injuries, click here to email Coach Dana. Your question may be featured here on the In and Out blog! 

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