The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise per week, plus two days each week that focus on strength training of all your major muscle groups. If the idea of fitting in that much exercise makes you shudder, bite-sized daily exercise routines can be way more manageable. As long as you have all of the components of a solid fitness routine -- cardio, strength and flexibility -- you can make daily fitness a part of your regular schedule.
The requirements for cardiovascular activity work out to about 30 minutes of cardio, five days per week. If you're a Monday to Friday kind of gal, schedule 30 minutes of aerobic exercise -- running, dancing, swimming, walking -- as a given during the week. Whether you get up early and go for a run or wind down at the end of the day with a spin class, plan on an activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat. Then you can take it easy on the weekends.
Two days per week should be devoted to strength training along with your regular cardio. If you run every day, add weight or some other type of resistance training on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about a half hour. Remember that a solid strength training program works all major muscle groups, including the legs, arms, core and back. You can lift weights, use resistance bands or use body weight exercises -- think squats and lunges -- to tone and see real results.
The last component of a well-rounded workout routine is flexibility and stretching. While you probably stretch at the beginning and end of your other workouts, taking a yoga class or focusing on intense stretching on Monday, Wednesday and Friday can help balance your other efforts -- and help relieve some of the soreness on your strength training recovery days. Check out a hatha yoga class to get started or focus on stretching more intensely after your cardio workouts to make sure that your flexibility limitations aren't holding you back.
While no plan is perfect for everyone, sticking within the general guidelines of a basic workout routine can help you plan for daily fitness and reach your goals. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday do 30 minutes of cardio and do 20 to 30 minutes of moves for flexibility. For example, a run that ends with a quick yoga class or a swim that ends with intense stretching work well. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, kick off your workout with 30 minutes of cardio and then focus on building strength by lifting weights, taking a Pilates class or using resistance bands for curls, squats and lifts for another 30 minutes.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.