How Long Is the Ideal Exercise Session?

Dr. Richard Rust, the author of Skin Care for Men, earned his MD from the Indiana University School of Medicine. He currently practices as a staff anesthesiologist with Northside Anesthesia services in Indianapolis. Outside of work, Dr. Richard Rust enjoys driving convertibles, reading, and exercising.

The recommended amount of exercise the average person should get in a week can vary from doctor to doctor. For example, the World Health Organization sets the target at 150 minutes, or 2 1/2 hours, of moderate physical activity per week. Other specialists recommend an additional 30–45 minutes a week of strength training, such as weightlifting or digging in one’s garden.

Most experts agree, however, that the week’s exercise does not have to be performed in a single 2 1/2 hour session. Instead, it’s usually more convenient to break that down into several 10- or 15-minute exercise breaks during the week, as short exercise periods can have more beneficial effects than longer ones.

In fact, one recent study demonstrated that taking a short walk after dinner was more effective in reducing blood levels of fat and triglycerides. Another study showed that several six-minute sessions were as effective in helping sedentary adults achieve fitness goals as a single 30-minute workout. For those trying to quit smoking, one study suggested that shorter bursts of exercise could reduce the craving for nicotine.


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