What should be the duration of exercise?

If you are a beginner, start with 10-20 minutes and add more time to each workout until you’re up to 30 minutes.  

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT

The duration of your exercise depends on your goals. If you want to stay healthy and fit strive for at least 15-30 minutes per day, 4-5 days a week. If you are looking to lose weight I suggest increasing your activity to at least 30-60 minutes per day, 5 days a week. With that being said, what’s most important is that you incorporate more movement and activity into your daily routine, every little bit adds up! Also, to prevent your program from becoming stale and to keep your body reaping exercises’ rewards try to vary how hard you’re working from workout to workout. This will ensure that you won’t have to continually increase the duration of your exercise sessions to continue to see benefits. There are different levels of intensity that you can use to do this. For example, make your activity vigorous a few times a week if you want to boost weight loss and calorie burning. Vigorous exercise is characterized as that which causes your breathing to be hard and fast, and your heart rate to go up significantly, you’ll know you’re working at the right level if you can’t say more than a few words without having to stop and take a breath. On easier days, perform lower to moderate intensity exercise. Moderate intensity exercise should cause you to break a sweat and your heart rate to go up but shouldn’t be so hard that you couldn’t have a steady conversation with someone while doing it.

The most important thing is for you to become comfortable with exercising. My goal is for you to make it a part of your life and not something you dread doing. If it is another item on your to do list then there is a high probability of it being left off. So if you are just starting an exercise program try walking with a friend or a pet from the local shelter for 30 minutes every other day. Do this for just two weeks. On the days in between try one of my beginner workouts on my profile. I walk you through exactly what to do, they give you the exact running time AND they are no equipment. I want you to get in the routine of working out daily, so that it becomes a habit. If you are a more advanced be sure and read Dean's excellent answer above and do my more advance videos.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

At the very least, shoot for ten minutes twice a day.  Thirty minutes total a day is even better and anything beyond that is fantastic.  Don’t feel like you have to get it all in at once, though.  That can be overwhelming and can decrease the chances that you actually do it.  Not to mention, breaking up your work out into smaller chunks burns more calories.  

The ideal : We always start with walking first and building up to 10,000 steps a day for at least 30 consecutive days.  Then we recommend you start resistance exercises every even numbered day, and only after 15 of those days and another 30 days of 10,000 steps do we suggest you progress to 21 minutes three times a week of aerobic exercises, with one minute very intense at the end of every 10. Such anaerobic exercise is not recommended for some people with certain heart or orthopedic conditions, until you have reversed those with diet, stress management and other exercise. Discuss this with your doctor.

The minimum duration for exercise should be around 30-mintues.  If you are unable, due to time restrictions, to achieve this amount of time then try and break it up to no smaller than 2 15-minute bouts of exercise. 

If you are striving for weight loss then this time should be at least 30-minutes 4+ times per week in order to have success.  The length of time for exercise will depend on your goals.  Be sure to stay active and give it your all each session.  Also, keep your routine fresh by mixing the intensity of your workout and the order of your exercises.

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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.