Exercise Goals 101

You know that regular exercise is important to staying healthy, being physically fit, and maintaining a good quality of life. However, deciding how much and what types of exercise to do is difficult for most people. Part of the reason is that the type and quantity of exercise someone needs depends on a variety of factors such as age, health status, and lifestyle.

Regardless of your long-term fitness aspirations, if you want to make exercise part of your everyday life, follow these two fundamental recommendations:

  1. Establish and sustain a procedure for regular exercise that is compatible with your lifestyle.
  2. Work toward getting the generally recommended amounts of exercise necessary to maintain good health.

Why start with these goals? If you put too much emphasis on physical results initially—such as losing twenty pounds of fat or gaining five pounds of muscle—you might be successful in the short run, but the behaviors required to attain your short-term goals probably won’t be sustainable long term.

Most people should aim to establish a repeatable exercise routine that at least meets the general recommendations of the major health institutions, such as the American Heart Association and The American College of Sports Medicine. Once exercise is as routine for you as brushing your teeth or taking a shower and you are consistently enjoying the basic health and quality of life benefits of regular exercise, then you can focus on more specialized goals.

The Two Basic Types of Exercise

The two basic types of physical exercise are aerobic and anaerobic. Both types are required for long-term health and fitness success.

When people are engaged in aerobic exercise (a.k.a. cardio exercise), their heart rate elevates and works overtime to deliver oxygen to their muscles. Anything that gets the heart pounding for a prolonged period is considered cardio. Some common examples of cardio workouts are running, swimming, dancing, and biking. These kinds of exercises make your heart healthier and more efficient at pumping blood through the body. They also burn calories more efficiently than anaerobic exercise, which makes them a popular tool for weight loss within many exercise programs.

Unlike cardio, which relies on breathing for energy, anaerobic exercise (a.k.a. strength training) draws energy from food-based fuel stored directly in your muscles and organs. Cardio requires slow-burning consistent energy, similar to the warmth of a candlestick or campfire, so breathing works fine. Anaerobic activities require large and explosive energy bursts, similar to the force a bomb or rocket creates, so they require a different kind of fuel.

How Much Cardio Is Needed?

Building and maintaining a strong body requires exercising all your important muscles. Though the heart is an organ, it’s composed of a significant amount of muscle tissue. The heart’s muscular activity is crucial because the rest of your body—including other muscles—depends on it to deliver oxygen and energy. To exercise the heart, regularly engage in some form of cardio exercise.

The American Heart Association currently recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobics per week.

How Much Strength Training Is Needed?

We all lose muscle mass as we age, generally starting in our thirties. As this happens, we become weaker and less functional. By roughly age fifty, natural muscle breakdown often makes it difficult to do ordinary daily activities, lowering our quality of life.

The best remedy for reversing muscle degeneration is building more muscle through strength training. When you’re stronger and more fit, you’re better able to move and engage with the world.

Strength training also provides many people with emotional and psychological benefits. For instance, the experience of gaining physical strength, of being able to lift five pounds more than on a previous attempt, can be highly gratifying. This tends to raise a person’s self-confidence and brings a unique sense of accomplishment.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that people of all ages should practice strength training by exercising each major muscle group—arms, chest, back, shoulders, and legs—two to three times per week.

Fitting Exercise into a Busy Life

Doing 75 to 150 minutes of cardio plus two to three strength training sessions for each muscle group per week may sound like a lot. If you choose the wrong fitness methods, meeting even these basic guidelines is difficult, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Friction Factor Fitness can teach you how to meet the basic exercise guidelines and achieve your fitness goals without disrupting your busy life. We will teach you to design a simple series of three to four twenty-minute workouts that can be done at home with minimal home gym space and equipment.

To learn more about the Friction Factor Fitness approach, sign up for our email newsletter, follow us on social media, and order your copy of The Friction Factor today.