How Much Exercise Do You REALLY Need to Get in Shape?

So is it twenty minutes three times per week? How about half-hour per day? Or, as one of my heroes, Dr M.Greger from ‘How Not To Die’ fame recommends:…. 90 minutes a day? And, do you actually know how much is too much?

Well, let me share: you don’t need to sweat it out for an hour every day to make some improvements.


Let’s go over the (sometimes) mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness. Ideal for getting into shape.

I’ll start here with the minimum.


Of course, you’re going to have to start from somewhere.

If you’re not already exercising regularly, it’s best not to enter an Iron Woman competition next week.  In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, and become a reason you just throw in the towel.

So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend “ten to twenty minutes every second day at a level you think you can do?” How does that sound as a starting point?

Pretty do-able, I’d say!

Let’s face it: anything is better than nothing. And if you’re not training for an Iron Woman competition, you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this gentle plan. However, I’m not gonna lie, with this low level effort, it may take somewhat longer to get to your goal.

But, if you follow the link at the end of my post, you’ll be blown away by reading one person’s fabulous results. There’s even a recommended schedule of exercise that I think you might totally fall in love with….

I did.  And I’m in week 2 of following that programme. Imagine: I already recorded improvements.

The weekly workouts look like this: [but exact suggestions are given via the link]

  • 2 sprint workouts – 6 minutes each
  • 2 circuit workouts – 10 minutes each

Yep, 32 minutes A WEEK.

And if you keep increasing your effort, within just a few months, you’re going to be so proud of your improved strength and fitness.


Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with a sensible plan of attack.

Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).

Always consider what is reasonably sustainable for YOU, based on:

  • Your age
  • Your long-term fitness goal
  • What else is going on in your life (i.e. how much time do you really have)
  • And what your current state of fitness is

But don’t stop there! As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it will start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go. Every week do something to push yourself a bit harder than you did before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition, or grab the next heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, and/or faster.

A great motivational tool is to log your workouts. A simple notepad or workbook (or app) will do! Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep accountable and motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.

After 4 weeks, stop and evaluate. Either keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you’ll find yourself getting stronger, and fitter!

And….as you exercise more often, it will become a habit that you’ll look forward to. It won’t take as much willpower to keep going as you had to use during the startup phase/ 


While exercise is very, very good for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have an even bigger overall impact on your shape and fitness.

The one mistake that you mustn’t make is this: just because you started to exercise, do not use that as an excuse to eat more. That would be totally counterproductive and cancel out many benefits.

Depending on your effort, if you feel you need it, you can have a small snack before or after to either give you more energy or to aid recovery.

If you are into lifting and muscle training, you may need a low sugar protein boost after the exercise is finished.  But if you just do 10 to 20 minutes very light exercise, you don’t need to ‘carb up’ like an athlete before a marathon. Check in with your body and decide: do I need something before or do I need something after to aid muscle growth and recovery. At the beginners level, most likely not…

Some of my favourite super-simple snacks are:

Half an hour before, eat a 6 almonds and an apple

  • Lose the sugary treats and sports bars and rather eat two or three dried apricots with 4-6 walnut halves
  • A small banana with a small spoon of almond butter
  • 1 low sugar protein shake using only minimal fruit
  • Hummus and vegetable sticks


You truly don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! But you do need to do the following:

  • Be sensible when you start out, and don’t go overboard.
  • If you’re a beginner, try 10 – 20 minutes every 2nd day at an easy level. Or use the plan as set out in the article via the link. Just click on it.
  • Log your workout progress to track improvements and keep motivated.
  • Slowly increase the difficulty every week as you get stronger and fitter.
  • For fat loss, don’t forget to eat your veggies, reduce your serving sizes, increase protein to carb ration and carry around healthy snacks.
  • Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program.

REFERENCES and for the sample fitness plan:



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