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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How long should I exercise each time?

    Related Topic
    How many times per week and for how long each time should someone exercise?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Jess grew up in country Western Australia, and moved to Perth for university in order to study her growing passion in nutrition. Jess commenced practicing … View Profile


    According to the latest research, a minimum of 30- 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week is beneficial for the physical and mental health of all adults.

    But I always like to encourage people to start slowly and build up the amount of daily exercise you do. This is important to prevent injury whilst gradually improving your fitness level, especially if you have previously done very little exercise. Even if you begin with 15 minutes a day and build up by 5 minutes each day, its a start and thats the main thing.

    Only have a limited amount of time for exercise? No problems! Physical activity can be just as effective by breaking it into 3 x 10 minutes over the day or 2 x 15-20 minutes and so on.

    What is the best type of exercise? A variety! Swimming, brisk walking, jogging, team sports, gym, bike riding, dancing, the list goes on. This ensures that different muscles are being used and therefore maximising the beneficial effect on your health.

    Physical activity can also include incidental activity. For example, work or ride a bike to work! Fit in a brisk walk around the block during work lunch time, always take the stairs where possible, park the car further away from the shops and carry your shopping to the car. Make it a brisk walk, the higher the intensity, the more calories you burn ( especially for weight loss).

    Lastly, i would suggest wearing a pedometer to help you stay motivated and active. Aim for 10,000 steps a day! Challenge yourself- how many steps a day do you do??

    Hope this helps!


    Jessica Butcher
    Accredited Practising Dietitian
    Melbourne CBD

  • Courtney Hargrave

    Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist

    Dual qualified Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the fields of Sports Science, Exercise Physiology and Nutrition. Also I am … View Profile

    Jessica has answered this question really well! 

    The current research shows there are many health benefits from participating in 30 minutes of physical activity on most (if not all) days of the week. 

    Interestingly, these recommendations do not apply for those aiming to lose weight. People who are performing physical activity as part of a weight loss plan, should aim to participate in levels greater than 30 minutes. 

    It is also important to understand the term 'Physical Activity'. Physical activity is any bodily movement that uses your muscles and results in energy expenditure. It does not have to be structured in the form of fitness classes or personal training sessions. It could include walking to and from work, kicking a ball around the back yard with your children or using stairs instead of elevators when at work. 


    Courtney Hargrave
    Accredited Exercise Physiologist / Sports Scientist / Nutritionist / Associate Lecturer (UQ)
    Brisbane, QLD

  • 1


    Luke Delvecchio

    Diabetes Educator, Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist

    Specializing in the assessment and treatment of metabolism related weight disorders. View Profile

    The only thing I could possibly add to your question on how long you should exercise would be to find firstly what are your “Goals”?  As the duration of exercise can be manipulated by altering the intensity of exercise to meet different objectives.

    For example, if you were only interested in improving your aerobic fitness, you could reduce the duration that you exercise for and increase the intensity, but if your goal is weight reduction you could go the other way and reduce the intensity of exercise and increase the duration - these recommendations are based of the F.I.T.T principals of exercise prescription.

    That way you have the flexibility to adjust your exercise sessions to meet your lifestyle.

  • 1


    Neil Synnott

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    I am qualified as a PHYSIOTHERAPIST and ACCREDITED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST.I primarily use the McKENZIE METHOD for assessment and management of musculoskeletal pain disorders. The McKENZIE … View Profile

    Hi all,

    Jessica, Courtney and Luke have answered this question quite well. I would just like to reiterate a few points.

    GOALS - what are you actually exercising for? - weight management, increased fitness and performance, general wellbeing? Your goal dictates what frequency, intensity, type and time (FITT principle) you exercise for each week.

    STARTING POINT - if just starting out, exercise needs to be at a comfortable level so that you can complete your usual daily activities (and exercise the next day as well). Starting with too high an intensity will likely lead to a musculoskeletal injury and a visit to the physio! Not ideal!

    FREQUENCY - Exercise really needs to be completed everyday. One of the real secrets to exercise is regularly performing it! For general health purposes, studies suggest men and women need to walk 35k/week! 

    SUPPORT - Being involved in a group - with friends, pre-arranged classes - really helps to keep motivation up. Being in touch with a physiotherapist, accredited exercise physiologist or personal trainer can help to keep you on track!

    Overall, my exercise recommendations are as follows:

    • 30-60 minutes cardiorespiratory - aim for 5-7 days per week
    • 30 minutes resistance training - aim for 3-4 days per week

    Happy exercising for all!

    Regards, Neil

  • 1



    And is heart rate important when exercising? Should I just go as hard as possible to burn as many calories as I can?

  • Luke Delvecchio

    Diabetes Educator, Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist

    Specializing in the assessment and treatment of metabolism related weight disorders. View Profile

    I must admit I don't quite like the idea of “Going as hard as possible” as in my experience this will lead to premature burn out and possibly over training.  I better concept to follow would be to follow the progressive overload principal and aim to progressively burn more calories (if weight/fat loss is your goal of course) per week.  For example:

    Week 1:  3-5 aerobic workouts @ 300 Calories burnt per session
    Week 2: 10% overload  @ 330 Calories burnt per session
    Continue this step like overload pattern at an increase of 5-10% per week.

    Calorie expenditure follows oxygen consumption more closely than heart rate, although heart rate is a reasonable guide - I recommend using a polar heart rate monitor that shows calorie expenditure.

    This way you will be sure to slowly, but surely achieve your goal and most importantly stay on track.

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