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How much exercise do you need to do each week to stay fit and healthy?

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

It is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine that adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can be achieved by doing 5 x 30 minute moderate exercise sessions throughout the week or 3 x 30 minute high intensity exercise sessions. If you can’t meet these requirements still aim to do some activity as something is always better than nothing!

When starting out any new exercise program it is important to slowly build yourself up to allow your body to go through the adaptation period to reduce the chance of injury especially if you are over 50 or haven’t exercised much over the last few years.

Adults should perform resistance training 3 times per week doing compound exercises, training each major muscle group with full body workouts. I personally recommend 2-4 sets per exercise and completing 2 exercises per body part as a starting point. If you are performing 2 sets aim for 15+ repetitions or go to failure, 3 sets 10-12 reps and if you are doing 4 sets go for 6-8 reps. A full body workout should be composed as 2 leg exercises, 2 chest exercises, 2 back exercises and a shoulder exercise. Each rep range shows different benefits with 15+ reps building muscular endurance, 10-12 reps targeting hypertrophy or muscle growth and 6-8 reps targeting muscular strength. Between these 3 resistance training sessions allow 48 hours for recovery.

You should be stretching 3 times per week targeting each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat the routine twice through which will lengthen the muscle and improve range of motion. Studies performed by the ACSM show stretching is most effective when the muscles are warmed up therefore stretching after exercise is most effective. I would personally recommend to stretch after each workout for 10 minutes.

You might be asking yourself so what does the ideal general health and wellness program look like? Well that depends on a number of factors such as age, illnesses and current fitness levels however as a base line for most people that have been checked by their GP that have a normal blood pressure reading and have good cholesterol that have a reasonable level of fitness I would recommend the following:

(Coach Rider’s recommended weekly program for people who want to be fit and healthy in all areas)

Monday- Resistance Training (45 minutes) moderate

Tuesday- High Intensity Cardio (45 minutes) high

Wednesday- Resistance Training (45 minutes) moderate

Thursday- High Intensity Cardio (45 minutes) high

Friday- Resistance Training (45 minutes) moderate

Saturday- Yoga and a walk or easy jog (45-1 hour) low

Sunday- Rest

4-5 hours of exercise per week.

(90 mins high intensity)

(135 mins moderate intensity)

(60 minutes low intensity)

This cover’s all the bases as you lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and lower the chance of falls in older adults due to an increase in co-ordination.


Rocketto L, (2011) ACSM Releases New Exercise Guidelines,

Metzl J, MD, (2017) The Science of Exercise,

Morey S, (1999) ACSM Revises Guidelines for Exercise to Maintain Fitness,


About the Author

Nic Rider is a corporate health and well-being coach with 8 years experience in the health and fitness industry. He is one of the top age group triathletes in Australia practicing what he preaches as he believes in leading by example to help inspire others. Nic has coached 100s of corporate professionals to start exercise, lose weight, build muscle and improve cardiovascular health along with rehabilitation. He has coached clients to run marathons and participate in triathlons along with climb mountains in the Himalayas.

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