Is it okay if I only have time to workout one day a week for two hours?


It is generally recommended to increase your heart rate for a minimum of 30 minutes on a daily basis (5-7 days/wk)  performing moderate to intense physical activity. You can do this through general activities like walking, mowing the yard, using the stairs instead of the elevator, and modifying activities you already enjoy.

While something is better than nothing, you are not going to produce the benefits of a more days in just one. Depending on your goals, there are things you can do that aren’t going to take much time each day. Fitting in just 10 minutes of exercise, three times a day can be just as beneficial as 30 minutes all at once. You can take a brisk walk in that 10 minutes or do stairs for 10 minutes. You can also incorporated strength training by doing lunges, push-ups and sit-ups for another 10 minute bout. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and setting aside time for exercise may prove to have more than a weight loss benefit as well. If you have a busy schedule, getting some exercise in everyday can also help reduce stress.

Well, I'm a big believer in giving ourselves a pat on the back for the positive things we do.  So, good for you for taking care of yourself by making exercise a regular part of your life.

I have two concerns for you.  First, what is your goal for exercise?  Two hours once a week may not be (and probably is not) the most effective way to reach your goal.  Over time, you may get frustrated if you aren't seeing results from your efforts.
Second, if you are working out hard for two hours, and sedentary the rest of the week, you may be setting yourself up for injury.  Your workouts will be more safe and effective if you have the overall conditioning that comes from regular activity. 

You could address this by either incorporating activity into your current routines, or by developing short, efficient workouts that can be done in 20-30 minutes several times a week.  Feel free to contact me and we can discuss specific ways to make this work for your lifestyle and your goals.
Working out 1 day a week is better than nothing, but if you have 2 hours available on only one day maybe you should try to change your schedule around to split the time up through out the week. Start with finding 10 minutes a day for at least 5 days of the week, focus on 2 Total Body Exercises (ie. Squat, Row; or Lunge, Curl, Overhead Press). Then on the day that you have more time, add more exercises in that routine. While doing this you should also want to add cardio within your day. Examples that you can incorporate in every are: take stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the office, store or other locations, ride a bicycle to work, and/or walk your pet.

While it is true that some exercise is better than no exercise, you will not see the results you are working for with just one workout a week. Your body needs time to adapt to any exercise routine, usually 6 - 8 weeks, working out 3 times a week and combining resistance training with cardio training. If finding the time to get to the gym is the limiting factor, there are numerous alternatives I would be happy to share with you. Fitness is a lifestyle choice, make your choice now.

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
I applaud you that you are trying to fit working out into your busy lifestyle. However, it is not very efficient or effective to workout for 2 hours 1x/week. To get the best results try the following:

  • Decrease your calories by 500/day
  • Increase the number of steps that you take by 250/day until you hit 10,000/day
  • Become an "accidental exerciser" i.e. take the stairs, park as far away from your destination as possible, get up and move for 3-5 minutes every hour at work
  • Add a simple "10 minute fitness routine" to your day by doing pushups, lunges, bridges and sit ups  3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • When you feel hungry drink 8 oz of ice water and eat some fruit or vegatables
  • Take the total 120 minutes that already have scheduled and reallocate throughout the week i.e. 20 minutes 6 days/week

Good luck! Make physical activity fit your lifestyle for lifelong changes
Working out for two hours just one day a week is not an ideal way to get in shape.  Instead, I would recommend trying to find small pieces of time during each day where you can incorporate exercise activities.  During your lunch break consider taking a walk.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible.  Keep a set of hand weights at your desk and become familiar with a few simple exercises you can do while sitting, standing or even talking on the phone.  Every positive change counts and you might be surprised at how much activity you can squeeze in each day when you make the effort.  As always, don't forget to check with your doctor before beginning this, or any type of exercise program.
If you are only working out one day a week for two hours, then it is time to reevaluate your habits. Consider creating a NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) Program. A NEAT Program is programs that incorporate movements throughout your day and is the opposite of EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) which you are doing once a week.  Our bodies are designed to move. If you have no limitation in movements, now is the time to get moving. Here is something to consider. Aside from a brisk walk 30-minutes each day, consider turning your workplace and home into a NEAT friendly environment. At work in place of sitting stand frequently and move from one position to another. The popularity of Treadmill workstations is increasing. If you sit at a desk all day, consider upgrading your desk to a Treadmill Workstation. This will allow you to keep moving at a treadmill setting of no higher than two. At home, incorporate activities that keep you moving. A great resource to help you develop a NEAT Program is found in chapter 15 and appendix D of the book Dr. A’s Habits of Health. Here the author gives you the tools to manage your NEAT Program. So to answer your question, it is not okay to only workout for two hours once a week.
That is like asking is it OK to brush your teeth one day a week? The answer is a big NO. Ideally you want to do a little bit every day with one day off a week. This is why all my DVDs have short workouts on them, to show you how you can get in great shape in under 20 minutes a day. If you are that busy that you can't give yourself 20 minutes, then do as many push-ups as you can before you get in the shower. The next day, do crunches, the next plank for as long as possible, so each day pick a different exercise and max out on it. That is not that hard, right? 

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Exercise provides many health benefits - from fitness to increased physical and mental energy. In order to prepare yourself for a exercise routine, you need to research which exercise is right for you and how to fit a new exercise ...

e program into your daily schedule.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.