A woman stretches alongside her dog.

Exercise is like the great unknown. How much do you really need to be healthy? There are endless studies and guides available, but it’s easily lost in the shuffle of information overload. According to Dr. Vicki March, co-founder of UPMC BodyChangers, the amount of exercise you need depends on your personal goals.

“The amount of exercise is really based on what you want to accomplish,” explains Dr. March. “If you’re trying to lose weight, obviously your plan would be different if you’re just trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Dr. March and the UPMC BodyChangers offer some quick tips for breaking down your exercise routine.

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Average Healthy Adult

If you’re like the millions of American’s trying to stay in shape and not put on any excess pounds, you can stick to the public health guidelines established by the federal government, which is a weekly minimum of two and a half hours of moderate exercise.

“People think of exercise as going to the gym, but some routine things you do almost every day can help you get the exercise you need,” says March. These might include:

If the idea of light workouts isn’t for you, replace it with one hour and 15 minutes of intense activity, which can include:

  • Jogging
  • Weight lifting
  • Jumping rope
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Cycling

“If you’re doing one of these two methods, you’re getting just the right amount of exercise you need,” says March. “And if you’re looking to build muscle, change your workouts to include more weight lifting and aerobics.”

Overweight or Obese

If you are overweight or obese, your work out regimen has to be completely different. For those looking to lose weight and keep it off, no less than four hours of combined moderate and intense workouts are required. “You can get great results by doing cardio for two hours, then hitting the weights for two hours,” says Dr. March.

If you’re looking for significant weight loss, more than four hours of exercise per week is key. “This is sometimes tough to do, but if you’re determined, you can really get in great shape and lose weight, and keep it off with more than four hours of exercise a week,” says Dr. March. “But, make sure to pace yourself, you don’t want overdo it!”

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The UPMC Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Center is a joint program between UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. We provide long-term care for adolescents, young adults, maternal patients, and adults with congenital heart disease. Our goal is to provide complete care from your childhood all the way through your life. Our team of experts has a wide knowledge of heart conditions.