You don't have to follow any single, predetermined exercise program. Healthy exercise is really about finding the balance that works for you. The best fitness plan is one you can stick to. You may work out three times a day, but keep the workouts relatively brief and moderately intense. Three very intense workouts a day is generally too much and can lead to a host of health problems.
Weekly Exercise Recommendations
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend most adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. You may reach the suggested time goal over the course of a week. You should also strength train at least two days per week. Keep in mind, however, that if you're trying to lose weight, you might need even more exercise -- as much as 300 minutes per week. If you have a busy lifestyle, you might not have time to do 30 to 60 minutes of exercise all at once every single day. Breaking up your daily routine into shorter sessions could make your fitness routine more manageable and it may offer you specific health benefits.
Exercising several times a day isn't only good time management, it can also offer real health benefits. A study published in a 2011 issue of "Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging" found that three exercise sessions lasting 10 minutes each could burn more fat than a single exercise session lasting 30 minutes. A study published in a 2012 issue of "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" found that three smaller sessions of exercise could improve blood pressure more than a single session of exercise.
If you're doing several intense sessions of exercise per day rather than breaking up one routine into three smaller ones, you could harm your body. Overtraining syndrome can occur when you push your muscles past their limit by doing too much work. If you feel pain during your routine or are exercising while you're exhausted, it's time to stop for the day. If you keep pushing past the point of pain or exhaustion, you could end up with muscle and joint injuries.
How to Exercise
If you're breaking your exercise routine into smaller segments, you'll need to ensure you exercise with enough intensity to burn calories and strengthen your muscles, but not at the risk of overtraining. A few brief periods of exercise on most days can be suitable if you exercise with moderate intensity. If you want to break up your exercise routine, try taking several brisk walks throughout the day, for example. Short runs, brief bursts of calisthenics, such as push-ups or sit-ups, and short periods working out with exercise machines can be effective. Circuit training also provides an ideal opportunity for short bursts of exercise. Try combining 5 minutes of cardio with five minutes of strength training three times per day, for example.
- The New York Times: The 10-Minute Workout, Times Three
- Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging: A Single Versus Multiple Bouts of Moderate-Intensity Exercise for Fat Metabolism
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Best Diet is the One You'll Follow
- Rice University: Overtraining Syndrome
- The New York Times: When Training Backfires -- Hard Work That's Too Hard
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Effects of Fractionized and Continuous Exercise on 24-h Ambulatory Blood Pressure
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss -- Calories Burned in 1 Hour
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.