Have you ever wondered: "Do I have to lift? Do I have to do cardio? Can I skip one?" or "How much do I need of each?" or "How hard does it have to be?"
It can be extremely confusing if you are just starting to know what to do and how long to do each portion. Some people are in the gym for hours at a time. Is that necessary? Most people don't have a schedule that allows for hours of exercise each day. Does that mean we are all doomed to be fat and die of disease? Absolutely not!
Let's not complicate simple things. I've listed the CDC physical activity recommendations below. I will summarize so you have an idea of what is needed as a minimum to avoid preventable diseases.
30 minutes of cardio activity at a moderate to vigorous intensity 5 days of the week AND lifting 2 or more days of the week. That's it.
You'd think it is rocket science in the ways that this recommendation is programmed in the billons of fitness programs marketed to us. The message can get lost in the method.
There are so many other things we could add into this, like flexibility, balance, speed, power, agility, sports-specific movement, or mind-body connection, or asthetic based exercise. I am amazed at how many programs aimed at fat loss (which is a big seller for obvious reasons) do not hit this basic physical activity recommendation for adults. Why is this happening or acceptable? Programs that recommend lifting only, are missing the vast benefits to the cardiovascular system. Hello! Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women and it is largely preventable. Don't skip it (even if you are trying to build muscle mass.) That isn't to say that those programs don't provide any benefit to the cardiovascular system, but they flat-out miss the recommendation from the CDC. You can look great and avoid disease.
CDC Physical Activity Recommendations for Health Benefits
Accumulate exercise in 10 minutes or more chunks at a time.
Adults need at least:
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week AND muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week AND muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity AND muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
Check out the website to find additional recommendations for weight matience and a ton of additional information.