One question I see asked a lot in fitness groups is around exercise. How much should I exercise? How much cardio should I do to lose weight?
I’m always floored by how different the responses are. I once saw someone post that they rode the bike or used the treadmill for THREE hours a day, six days a week. You read that right. I hoped the person was grossly exaggerating as some folks do online. But I did the math. And that works out to a whopping 18 hours of cardio a week and about 540 hours in a 30 day span.
My response to claims like this is always the same.
Unless you are training for a marathon race or something like a triathlon – you definitely do not need to do 3 hours of cardio a day. That’s just insane. And that’s where the phrase “killing yourself with cardio” comes into play.
Killing yourself with cardio often stalls progress
Why is killing yourself with cardio bad? Because over-training and over working the same muscles, can result in injuries or strains. I speak from experience here.
Check out the article I wrote here on common athletic injuries.
Diet is key
Exercising too much can also be counter productive when it comes to weight loss. While exercise is important for the body, it’s not the sole component to successful weight loss. The most comment response I’ve seen to this burning question is:
Diet is key.
Your weight loss will begin in your kitchen.
And this rings true for most people. What you’re eating and putting into your body will have a greater impact on your weight loss progress than exercising for three hours a day will.
Eating a healthy and well-rounded diet, eliminating junk food, pop and refined sugars will absolutely be key to losing weight. But don’t deprive yourself of the good things in life. Allow treats in moderation.
One thing I’ve learned is that starving yourself of things like bread and ice cream will only result in binges later on which is highly counter productive when it comes to your weight loss progress. Allowing treats in moderation will help to prevent these binges and keep you on track.
So, how much exercise should you do?
That’s the tricky question. And every person you ask in the internet forums in health groups, will give you a different answer. The key is finding what works for you. This may take some trial and error.
Exercising for health benefits
According to my physician, when I was at my heaviest and she was concerned for my well-being, she suggested I do at least one hour of daily exercise. She didn’t care what I did for exercise – as long as I did it. But I have heard from others that 20-30 minutes daily will suffice for weight loss.
You need to get moving. Okay, so you have a bike at home. But you need to do more than that. Get a gym membership. Instead of sitting down all the time – hop on a treadmill for a change. Go for a walk. Go to a pool. I’ll even give you a prescription for a membership discount. Just go. Get moving.
I had hit a low point in my life and had given up on myself all together. The weight wouldn’t budge no matter what I tried. Even with exercise, and eating very little, it seemed like a dead end.
Once my back healed in 2017, I started moving. I started off slowly. With 10 or 15 minutes on the bike. And gradually worked my way up to about 40-45 minutes.
Now, I’m able to do about an hour on the bike on a good day with my knees. The last week has been spotty because of the cold weather. But getting on that bike – helps with the pain. It’s a vicious cycle.
If I don’t keep up with my exercises, my knees scream in pain. But then the pain makes exercising difficult. This is why I gain weight. But I’m determined now more than ever to keep up with this challenge and meet my goals.
Exercise is crucial for joint paint. But for weight loss and keeping the weight off?
Well, that answer will be very individual. And it will take some trial and error to find what is the right amount of exercise for you.
I’m hopeful, that with my move in the spring – I’ll be able to get back to the size 12 that I was ten years ago. When I had access to a free gym. Where I live now – it’s killing me slowly. There’s nothing to do where I am now.
I can’t work out much in my condo because the floors are so thin it would sound like I’m caving through the roof. I’ve tried to accommodate this by using a mini cycle and doing light stretches – but it’s hard to do the same exercises over and over again.
There’s no where to go for walks where I live.
I’m so looking forward to spring when I can get back into the gym. And in the fall, one of my gal pals and I are planning on hitting the pool for water fitness classes. We’re aiming for twice a month. I can commit to that much.
If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your workout plans and exercise goals — find a workout partner. Find a motivational buddy in your area who can go to the gym with you. Join a class and get to know the people there. Having an accountability partner makes all the difference in the world.
Find someone with similar health and fitness goals as you do – and support and encourage each other in helping to meet your goals.
That’s the best advice I can give to anyone struggling to lose weight and who feels bad about it. Don’t. Just find someone who can help you on the right path and keep you motivated.
I think I’ll end there — the office is dead quiet today … but maybe I should look like I’m doing some work.
Tell me, what are your fitness goals? How do you stay motivated? How long do you exercise for?
Keep your head up – and keep up the good work!