How Much Exercise is Enough?

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Me after a run. I really enjoy running now. I never thought I could.

I run three to four times a week. I’ve reached most of my running goals rather quickly, and at this point I am just running and building my stamina and speed slowly and naturally. I used to have a goal of running every day, but I’ve decided that if it happens, then it happens. If not, running three or four times a week is probably enough. I also do fifty push ups before I run, and I try to increase it by 5-10 whenever the current number of push ups I’m at starts to feel too easy. I have a goal of 100+, but no timetable.

I firmly believe that I’ve had such success with running because I’ve taken it slowly and let my body dictate the pace and distance increases. I haven’t gone out and pushed myself hard, and when I felt a little off, or while I got sick two weeks ago, I held off from running. Returning to running was a lot easier than I thought it would be, and the body bounced back quite well. Monday night’s run was very enjoyable after running only once the week prior and not at all the week before that. I was very worried it would be difficult or that I would be out of breath. Neither were true.

I think it’s important to take into consideration your current physical ability and take it slow. I was told by a wise Gunny back in the Corps that you want to get out for 30 minutes of solid activity. Build the pace and distance each time within that 30 minutes. Once you are fully active in that 30 minutes, expand the workout as needed. That’s what I’ve done, and I’m really happy with the results. I never went out there to push myself super hard, and as a result, I’ve successfully avoided injury so far.

In past attempts to reintroduce an exercise regimen into my life, I have always ended up injured and unable to continue. This made me depressed and always led to me gaining weight. This time, I was smart about it, took my time, took it easy, and let the increases come naturally. I can’t be happier with my results.

My specific plan was to start with a slow jog. I jogged for 1.63 miles in nearly 30 minutes. My success for that run was that I jogged the entire time without stopping. I increased my pace and distance with each successive run, and I gave myself at least one day and sometimes two to recover between runs. Nearly three months later, I’m running over 3.5 miles with every run sub-10 minutes (and nearly sub-9’s) for each mile. The best part; I do so without really getting out of breath or over-exerting myself. These are comfortable runs that I enjoy.

Running used to be hard for me because I didn’t enjoy it. Now that I do it regularly and have learned to enjoy it, it’s become something I look forward to. It’s a part of my life, and I’m happy when I’m running. I find that I am less stressed after a run, and that overall, I’m a happier person because of it.

How much exercise is enough? As much as you feel is enough to meet your goals, whether they are physical or emotional. I can’t tell you what that is for you. You need to get out there and figure it out by doing.

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