how often should i workout

The easiest excuse for not working out is lack of time. Have you used this one?

When I hear it I force myself to look elsewhere for the patient. Where is the motivation, energy, desire to exercise?

Are they experiencing low cortisol, dopamine or nutrients like iron, B12 or vitamin D?

Is there a thyroid deficiency, recent transition to menopausal or a chronic malabsorption process leading to inflammation or low nutrient levels?

The release of endorphins from exercise is so incredibly addictive that looking for a physical or mental explanation for lack of fitness is worthwhile. There is a reason it is being avoided.

Lack of Time and Fitness Avoidance

If workouts are missing from a patients lifestyle there must be something going on either physically or mentally that is preventing exercise from taking place.

I usually think – it can’t be lack of time.

As a new father my time management has improved 10x and even with my new found organizational skills it has still become more difficult to workout because of time constrictions. I now know where people are coming from.

I am still getting to cardio and weights each week but frequency is reduced. To accommodate for fitness reductions I have, and would recommend for most, reduced caloric intake.

Does a reduction in fitness actually matter long term? Will health outcomes suffer?

How Often Should I Workout?

The current recommendations in North America for physical activities is 150 min of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. These are the durations associated with reduction in cardiovascular disease.

I wasn’t the only one contemplating whether completing the recommended times in 1 session would change outcomes. A researcher got involved and did the assessment! They even labeled the study a “weekend warrior” assessment.

Here is the title:

Association of “Weekend Warrior” and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality – REF

This is exactly the term I would use. Someone who works out really hard once or twice per week is a “weekend warrior”.

Are they getting enough fitness?

First it is important to mention that there are other risks. You may have heard that being a so called “weekend warrior” is associated with an increase in injury. Warm ups, flexibility, preparation and stability tend to suffer in this population.

Recovery time is also an issue.

When only working out once per week DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is a high probability. We use amino acids and a very specific supplement protocol in prevention and to speed recovery.

These negatives can all be managed if time management during the week doesn’t allow for proper physical activity. But is working out only once or twice per week even worth it?

Can I Workout Once Per Week and Be Healthy?

Last week I wrote about the importance of resistance training in longevity. It was recently discovered that bicep size in the elderly is associated with a longer, healthier life. It looks like bicep size could replace BMI as a significant marker of health.

The study highlighted above is assessing all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. We know 150 min of exercise per week is effective at reducing risk but what about taking that 150 minutes and dong it all on a Saturday, say playing basketball or soccer?

Verdict – effective!

Completing all of your 150 min per week in 1-2 sessions of exercise can adequately reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death by approximately 30% relative to those who are inactive. Spacing your workouts out only provides a sight advantage.

The issues associated with being a weekend warrior are still worth considering. Warm ups are important and proper recovery is essential.

We Recommend Physical Fitness Everyday

In holistic weight loss we like get the body moving everyday. Exercise not only has a positive impact on metabolism and weight loss. It also plays a huge role in mental wellness.

The release of endorphins can be the answer to low mood in many cases and the muscle relaxation, cortisol balancing, detox and hormone regenerating effects are reason enough to exercise everyday.

If we are trying to practice optimal wellness focused on longevity resistance training is key. For the prevention of cardiovascular disease (because of a family history or a host of risk factors) 150 min of activity needs to be the goal.

If time is the issue and a serious lack of time is causing missed workouts it isn’t something to stress over. Complete the workout in one or two sessions and be confident you are getting the benefits for the heart. The benefit will be similar to workout out in short bursts everyday.

Yes, working out is worth it even if it is only once or twice per week.


Dr. David Duizer is a co-founder of and a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a passionate, driven, motivated leader in integrative medicine focused on optimal wellbeing, holistic healing and natural health.

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