Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Aerobic exercise: What's the best frequency for workouts?

Which is better — 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, or one hour of aerobic exercise three times a week?

Updated: 10-21-2010

Answer

Longer, less frequent sessions of aerobic exercise have no clear advantage over shorter, more frequent sessions of activity. Any type of aerobic activity contributes to cardiovascular fitness. In fact, even divided "doses" of activity — such as three 10-minute walks spread throughout the day — offer aerobic benefits. What's most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends:

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (think brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running) — preferably spread throughout the week. Activity sessions should be at least 10 minutes long.
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week.

If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase your activity even more.

The bottom line? The more active you are in general, the greater the benefits — whether you choose longer, less frequent workouts or shorter, more frequent workouts.