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Should I be working out every single day?

The answer is yes and no — it depends on how you define working out.
It's important to incorporate active recovery, like yoga, into your workout routine.
It's important to incorporate active recovery, like yoga, into your workout routine.Westend61 / Getty Images

As a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, I am constantly answering health and fitness questions from my clients, on social media and in our Start TODAY Facebook group. In this column, I address some of the most common questions and roadblocks that trip people up on their journey to establish a health and fitness routine. 

Is it bad to work out every day?

Some of my clients ask me if it's bad to exercise daily. This is a tricky question. The answer is yes and no — it depends on how you define working out. As a personal trainer and weight loss coach, I do advise my clients to move every single day. When we move our bodies, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to tissues and the cardiovascular system works more efficiently during daily tasks. But what that movement looks like will, and should, vary.

If you’re asking if you need to do a hardcore, sweat-inducing workout every single day, then the answer is no. Many people find this answer liberating. People are often intimidated by committing to a healthy lifestyle because they think that means intense exercise every day, but your workout plan may also include 20 minutes of walking, stretching, foam rolling or gentle yoga.

In fact, at the maximum, I recommend doing strength training three times a week for 30 minutes and cardio exercise five days a week for 30 minutes. Of course, if you are an athlete or training for a race, your workout schedule may be more intense than this. But those are my recommendations for the general public with a goal of improving their overall health.

For beginners, I recommend easing into a workout routine by starting with 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what that workout is. It could be a 30-minute walk, 30 minutes of yoga, 30 minutes of lifting dumbbells or body-weight exercises, or even 30 minutes of stretching!

On the two remaining days each week, I encourage people to do something leisurely, like walk around the block a few times (for a total of 20 minutes) or foam roll to loosen up their body.

Once you get into a workout rhythm, you can up the ante to cater your workouts to your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, include HIIT workouts a few days a week and break them up with a few days of yoga. HIIT workouts are an effective way to burn calories and boost your metabolism and yoga helps reduce cortisol levels and help the muscles recover.

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Beware of over-exercising, too. I always encourage people to listen to their bodies. If you find that your body is constantly sore or fatigued from exercising too frequently or too hard, give your body more time for recovery. You may find yourself craving a yoga session or a walk around the neighborhood — let that be your movement for the day! Then take advantage of the days when you feel energized to get in a more rigorous workout. In the end, a balanced, varied workout plan will leave you feeling not only stronger, but happier, too.

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