How long should my workout be? Under an hour good + good

Time is a resource we all wish we had more of. Busy schedules filled with more and more responsibilities keep us busy with little time for self-care, let alone exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of US adults do not get the amount of physical activity recommended for good health. And women are also more likely to be inactive than men.

When time is short, we are tempted to skip workouts. We usually think we need to exercise for at least 60 to 90 minutes, and some days it can seem almost impossible to find that much time. But, the truth is, we might be better off stopping our workouts well before an hour.

“Keeping your workouts under 60 minutes allows you to stay on track with your goals, feeling better physically and mentally,” says ACE-certified personal trainer Shawna Donfeldt. “30 to 60 minutes of exercise five to six days a week is really ideal.”

Surprising dangers of working out for more than 60 minutes

Working out for more than an hour can do more harm than good for many. Unless you’re an endurance athlete who runs marathons or competes in triathlons, regularly pushing 60 minutes can lead to overtraining syndrome (OTS), a condition that occurs when you don’t recover properly after repetitive, intense training sessions. Common symptoms include chronic fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, persistent muscle pain, poor sleep quality, weakened immune system, digestive problems, lack of sex drive and mood swings.

Rachel McPherson, an ACE-certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Review, says you should keep your workouts under an hour if you check any of these boxes: If you’re new to working out, if you have trouble sticking to your fitness routine , if you are dieting, if you have problems such as missed periods, fatigue, joint pain, frequent illnesses or sleep problems. “If you experience these effects,” she says, “you may be stressing your body too much, which can lead to hormonal disruption and overtraining syndrome.”

Women in particular should be aware of the intensity and volume of their workouts. When it comes to stress — physical or emotional — women are more susceptible to hormonal problems than OTS, says a study published in 2017. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“Exercise, while great for stress relief, can add stress to your body, especially if you exercise for more than 60 minutes,” says McPherson. Because extra long workouts can increase your cortisol levels. Although cortisol is a beneficial hormone in small amounts, if it puts your body under stress for too long, it can harm your health, says Kelsey Martin, a certified personal trainer at Lifetime.

“Also, working out for too long can start to break down muscle tissue,” adds Martin. “Women already have a harder time building muscle than men because of their lower testosterone levels.”

How long should you work instead?

For optimal health and wellness, the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week (or a combination of the two), plus two days of strength-training activities. . It may sound like a lot, but spending time being physically active doesn’t have to be all at once. For example, it’s best to break it up into smaller chunks by spreading it out over five 30-minute sessions a week and giving your body plenty of time to rest and recover.

Keeping workouts in the 30- to 60-minute range can help you be more consistent. “You’ll be less stressed, less tired, and better able to manage your recovery needs,” McPherson says. “If you work most days of the week, this shorter time frame is perfect for being able to better fit in your workouts as well as getting lots of activity in.”

Even just 10 minutes of movement on a jam-packed day can have big benefits, from your mood to your memory function.

Don’t forget the hours you’re not working

Keeping your workouts to a manageable length gives you more time to focus on recovery between each session. “Hydration, electrolytes, nutrition, sleep, recovery and physical stress all affect the quality of your workout,” says Denise Cervantes, an ACE at Herbalife and NASM-certified personal trainer. “So listen to your body, and make sure you warm up and cool down properly.” Instead of pushing it for over an hour, keep your workouts short so you give your body more time to get the most out of the time you spend on it.

According to a study published in 2021 nutrientsPost-exercise recovery “is essential to maintain a balance between training stress and physical recovery… to maximize adaptation and performance from the next training session.”

Translation? Get your rest, sleep well, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits—especially on days when you’re not feeling it.

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