A lot of us live busy lives, and keeping a schedule is a real task. As a personal trainer, I hear a lot about time being a barrier to physical activity. I also hear a lot about the goals of each individual, weight loss, muscle gain, general health, or however you slice it.
The question then becomes, how can we maximize our results for our health and goals, while minimizing the amount of time spent in the gym?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends obtaining 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity, or a mix of the two (1). Activities like brisk walking or very light resistance training would be considered moderate physical activity, while things like running at an incline and lifting heavy weights are considered vigorous.
The great thing is when we talk about health, you can also get your physical activity outside of the gym, walking or jogging through a park, hiking, or even household chores like vacuuming are all considered forms of physical activity as well.
Remember, the more aggressive your goal however, the more work you have to put it on both diet and physical activity.
As a personal trainer, I typically recommend people to start with 20 minutes three times per week doing something that gets you breathing heavy, hiking, cycling, or whatever you can enjoy. Try watching a show or listening to music while you exercise if it helps keep you motivated. Additionally, try resistance training twice per week for about 30 minutes. This will put you about 20 minute under the recommended guidelines, but a great place to start.
As you progress along your journey, try increasing the intensity as you tolerate it. For my advanced clients, I recommend being active daily, but intense workouts that combine both cardiovascular training and resistance training allow you to really minimize your time exercising while maintaining all you have achieved!
ACSM Reference: Haskell, W. L., Lee, I. M., Pate, R. R., Powell, K. E., Blair, S. N., Franklin, B. A., … & Bauman, A. (2007). Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 116(9), 1081.