Considering how good it is for your body and mind, you’d think more exercise (like more vegetables) is always, well, better. But does that mean you should be working out every day? It really depends on what you’re doing…to ensure you’re not overdoing it (a.k.a. overtraining), which is why we reached out to fitness pros for their best practices when it comes to training seven days per week.
To be clear: There is nothing wrong with taking rest days. As a refresher, experts recommend adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio), plus at least two strength-training sessions, per week. So, depending on your sched, you could meet these minimums in just a few days. But if, say, you prefer shorter workouts, you could feasibly find yourself dedicating more days to your fitness routine, hence the need to know how to do that in a way that optimizes your efforts and doesn’t undo them.
How many times a week you should get sweating, on the other hand, depends on your goals (and, to some degree) preferences. Here’s the low-down on the pros and cons of working out every day — plus guidelines for making daily exercise work for you.
5 Benefits Of Working Out Every Day
Whether the idea of daily sweat sessions brings you joy or makes you cringe, moving your body every single day offers some pretty legit potential perks.
1. You’ll be less sedentary.
Many adults spend 70 percent (!) of their time awake sitting, according to the Mayo Clinic — a fact that’s wreaking havoc on public health.
Committing to making some sort of exercise a daily part of your routine helps combat this — and ultimately makes it easier for you to make the habit stick, says Future trainer Josh Bonhotal. “This removes an all-too-common tendency to rationalize not working out by convincing yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow instead,” he says. Whether it’s a walk outside or a strength training session, a daily commitment to movement means a less sedentary (and healthier) life.
2. You’ll be more likely to reach your fitness goals.
The true key to achieving whatever fitness goal you’ve got your sights on: consistency.
“Stringing together workouts on a daily basis can help you gradually ramp up their intensity and difficulty over time, leading to even greater results,” says Bonhotal.
3. You’ll enjoy a major daily mood boost.
Elle Woods knew what she was talking about. Moving your body daily not only supports your physical fitness, but your mental wellbeing, too. “Exercise helps to release endorphins, a.k.a. happy hormones, which can help reduce stress and anxiety,” says trainer and nutritionist Whitney English. In fact, researchers consistently identify exercise as a noteworthy treatment for depression.
4. You’ll think more clearly, too.
Exercise has been shown to improve both memory and problem-solving ability, according to research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (It may also protect you from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, per a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, if you needed another motivation to get moving.)
5. You’ll be more likely to eat better.
For many people, exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand. “If you’ve just worked out, you’ve made a conscious investment in your health, and are more likely to pass up the potato chips for a healthier alternative,” Bonhotal says.
Daily exercise may also help you better practice moderation with after-dinner drinks and late-night snacks, according to English. (That second glass of wine may not appeal as much when you know you’ve got a 6 a.m. run planned the next morning!)
The Potential Downsides Of Working Out Every Day
While the benefits of exercising daily can be ~so~ real, there are two major potential drawbacks to keep in mind.
1. Inadequate recovery time can hurt your progress.
In case you think daily exercise means daily high-intensity exercise, know this: “Your gains don’t happen until you recover from a workout,” says Pilkington.
Strength training, for example, breaks down muscle tissue, adds English. If you want to see the results you’re working for, you need to give your muscles adequate time (ahem, days) to repair. Otherwise, you may physically overtrain your body and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of your workouts, she says. (Excess fatigue and unusual aches and pains signal you’re doing too much.)
2. Mental burnout is a very real thing.
Another serious downside of doing too much too often? A quick departure from motivation station.
If you don’t vary your daily workouts enough (nope, you definitely can’t do the same HIIT session every day), you can quickly experience psychological burnout and become unmotivated to stay active, Bonhotal says. And you can’t enjoy the benefits of daily exercise if you bail on the habit.
How To Balance Your Fitness Routine So You Can Work Out Every Day
To skip the burnout and get straight to the benefits of daily workouts, you’ve got to get strategic with your routine.
Since low-intensity exercise (like walking or yoga) doesn’t stress your system, you can pencil it in every single day, says English.
However, if your workout routine incorporates higher-intensity exercise, alternate between tougher days and easier days in order to give your body a break while still staying active, Pilkington explains.
For example, if you do HIIT on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, stick to lower-intensity workouts on Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend.
Varying your intensity is also key if strength training is part of your plan. In this case, alternate which muscle groups you focus on so that you don’t work the same parts of your body on back-to-back days, suggests Pilkington. If you do a lower-body workout today, for example, focus on upper body tomorrow.
To incorporate both strength training and cardio, either tack light cardio onto the end of your strength sessions, or use cardio days as buffers between strength training days, suggests Bonhotal.
Doing back-to-back cardio days? Mix up the intensity there, too. “If you want to run multiple days in a row, for example, you would be wise to mix up a longer duration run one day with a sprint workout or shorter intervals the next,” he explains.
Whichever approach appeals to you, your weekly routine should include workouts that match your goals but still allow enough rest and recovery to make daily training safe. Keep a “live to fight another day” mentality, Bonhotal says. This way, you leave enough gas in the tank to get after it tomorrow.
How To Tell If Your Daily Workouts Are Too Much
If working out every day is pushing your body too far, a few tell-tale signs will pop up to let you know it’s time to pump the breaks. If any of the following ring true, shift toward low-impact cardio workouts and other forms of light exercise like walks, yoga, and mobility training, Bonhotal says.
1. You’re crazy sore or in pain.
Muscle soreness can be a totally normal part of exercising, but if it lasts for more than a few days or makes it hard just to walk around during the day, it’s an indicator that you’re doing too much in the workout department, says Bonhotal.
Injuries (like muscle tweaks and pulls) also signal that you aren’t giving your body enough rest and recovery to handle daily exercise, English says.
2. Your cycle is off.
Excess stress on the body can affect your menstrual cycle, so be wary of any changes to your period when exercising daily, English notes.
3. Your mood and energy are all over the place.
Overdoing it on exercise also impacts your mood and energy levels — so if you find yourself fatigued and irritable, your everyday workout routine may be to blame, according to Bonhotal.
4. Your appetite changes.
Another side-effect of going overboard with the daily sweats: an up-and-down appetite, Bonhotal says. In fact, both a diminished appetite and crazy cravings can signal that something is off.
Exercising every day sounds great, but how many days a week do you need to work out?
Again, experts recommend adults log at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, plus at least two full-body strength sessions, per week to support overall health.
If you want to exercise seven days a week, aim for about 30 minutes per day, English says. If not, Bonhotal recommends shooting for at least four workouts per week.
Ultimately, though, it all depends on your individual goals (and schedule!).
The article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com