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How Often and How Long Should I Exercise?

The 3 factors that you need to consider when planning a fitness routine are:

Achieving a balance between these 3 factors will give you better results than if you take any one of them to an extreme. You may choose to do a vigorously paced physical activity (such as swimming, fast dancing, or cycling) 3 times a week for 30 minutes per session. Or you may choose to exercise at a moderate intensity (such as walking or doing yardwork) 5 to 6 times a week for 30 minutes per session. One routine stresses intensity while the other stresses frequency. Both routines are probably equally effective.

Exercise Cautions

Moderate exercise is safe for most people. However, if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

  • Do you have heart trouble?

  • Do you often have pains in your heart or chest?

  • Do you have high blood pressure?

  • Do you often feel faint or have dizzy spells?

  • Do you have arthritis or other bone or joint problems that might be made worse by exercise?

  • Do you have diabetes? (Increased exercise affects your insulin needs.)

  • Are you a man over age 40 with 2 or more risk factors for heart disease*?

  • Are you older than 60 and not used to hard exercise?

*Cholesterol over 5.2 mmol/L; blood pressure over 140/90; smoking; diabetes; family history of heart disease before age 50.

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