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Cardio 101 - Duration

How long should you exercise?

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Updated March 26, 2014

After you choose what to do, the most important element of your workout will now be how long you do it. You should work on duration before you work on anything else--it's more important to work on continuous exercise than to worry about how fast you're going or how hard you're working. If you're a beginner, start with 10-20 minutes and add more time to each workout until you're up to 30 minutes.

The guidelines recommend to workout for 30-60 minutes most days of the week, but don't feel like you have to start at that level if you're not ready. Feel free to:

  • Split your workouts into smaller workouts throughout the day.
  • Take a few minutes here and there for some stair-climbing or speed walking.
  • Do all those things you know you should be doing: take the stairs, walk more, stop driving around looking for that front row parking space, etc.
  • Make the time. People who workout don't have more time than people who don't. They've just practiced making exercise a priority. Scheduling your workouts and treating them like any other appointment you wouldn't miss may help you stick to your program.
  • Pay someone to make you exercise. Finding a good personal trainer can make a difference when it comes to motivation and reaching your goals.
  • Do something...anything. If you think 5 minutes isn't enough time to workout, you couldn't be more wrong. Whether it's 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 60 minutes, every single minute counts.

Keep in mind that doing too much cardio is a no-no as well and can actually backfire. There is a point of diminishing returns, so keep it reasonable (3-6 days a week, depending on your fitness level), vary your intensity and don't forget to take rest days when needed.

Next page How often should you workout?

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