Whether you’ve been working out for years, or you’ve just gotten into a routine, at some point you’ve probably found yourself wondering (especially if you want to skip the gym and watch Netflix instead), how often should I work out? The answer is: It depends on your goals, your schedule and the type of workout you’re doing. And even if you feel like you can’t work out “enough,” it’s always better to do a little bit each week than nothing at all. So, how many days should you really work out? Read on for the 411.
So, How Many Days Should I Work Out?
Before you know definitively how often you need to work out, it's a good idea to be realistic about the type of workouts you’re doing and what your end goal is.
“If you’re doing full-body workouts, then you’ll only perform two to three workouts per week,” says Jamie Hickey, nutritionist and Founder of Truism Fitness. “If you’re only doing one or two muscle groups a day then you’ll need to work out five times a week.” He adds that if losing weight is your goal, for optimal results, it’s ideal to work out six days a week.
The Center For Disease Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which sounds like a lot, but it becomes manageable when you consider that that’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and you don’t need to do it all at once. You could go on three 10-minute walks every week day, for example, and still meet that goal. If you opt for more vigorous exercise (like a fast run or an intense HIIT class) you’ll only need 75 minutes a week.
The CDC also adds that it’s important to do both aerobic and strength training exercises for optimal health. But keep in mind, this number is likely to keep your heart healthy, but you may need to go above and beyond to see gains, a marked difference in your body, or to achieve a stable body weight. For example, if weight loss is your goal with working out, then you may want to opt for a near daily workout. “If you’re trying to lose weight then you need to make sure you’re on a calorie deficit and the workout for that day is going to help you burn the calories you need for that particular day. If you go too long in between workouts, it can hinder your progress in the long run,” Hickey says.
Do I Need A Rest Day?
We know the importance of daily exercise, so it can seem counterintuitive to take a rest day, but if you even have to ask this question, chances are you definitely need one. “Rest days are absolutely needed, especially when you’re strength training. Yourmuscles repair themselves during rest. If you’re training every day you’ll limit the growth of muscle mass and you’ll increase the chance of becoming injured,” Hickey tells Lively. So, if you’re feeling sore or tired, give yourself some grace and take the rest day; you can still move your body by stretching or going for a casual walk.
And if you’re super sore, you may need two rest days in a row. “If you’re experiencing soreness that is so dramatic that it is preventing you from working out, it is either because you’re new to exercising and in this case you may need to take an extra day off,” Hickey says, adding that if you’re feeling very sore after working out regularly, you may be “misdiagnosing soreness for an actual injury,” in which case, your body definitely needs rest.
Should I Work Out If I’m Sick?
Maybe you have a mild cold or bit of a headache— it’s not enough for you to take off from work, so do you take off from working out? The short answer is yes; it’s always better to rest when you’re feeling under the weather.
“I always tell my clients that they should not work out if they’re sick, even if it’s only mild. When you work out, you’re causing your body stress (even if it’s healthy stress). The virus that your body is trying to fend off is also causing your body to undo stresses and the combination can cause you to become tired, dehydrated and lose vitamins. All of this can weaken your immune system,” says Hickey. It’s best to take the day off, rest, hydrate and go to bed early, then come back to your workout feeling your best.
Vital note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.