According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), healthy adults should strive for at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. This can be broken down to fit your schedule. One option is to split it into 30 minutes, 5 days per week. For weight loss, NASM recommends at least 60-90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 days per week. There are also more specific guidelines for those with various chronic health conditions. A certified personal trainer can help determine what is best for those clients.
One thing many of my clients share is what they do when they are not at the gym. Many are sitting behind a desk, behind the wheel of the car, or even sitting on the couch for extended periods. Although it can be difficult to be active if you are sitting for a long portion of your day, my number one recommendation is to stand up and move at least once per hour. You can set a timer on your computer, phone, or smart watch to remind you. You could take advantage of your lunch break for a walk. You should also check to see if your place of employment has a gym in the building for employee use.
While sitting at a desk, it is important to be mindful of your posture. Try to draw the shoulder blades together and down to reduce rounding in the shoulders. Draw the navel in toward the spine to activate the abdominal muscles. This will take some pressure off of the low back. The low back should be supported by the chair or lumbar pillow. Also be sure that the chair height allows your elbows and knees to be bent at 90-degree angles. The computer monitor should be at eye level to reduce strain on the neck.
As a personal trainer, the first thing I do with a client is assess their posture. By viewing the client’s posture, muscle imbalances can be determined. From there a program can be created to address both tight and weak muscles. Often, clients who sit at a desk or behind the wheel of a car for extended periods will exhibit tight hip flexors, a forward protruding head, and rounded shoulders. With this type of client, I would work on lengthening the tight muscles (example: Pectoralis major/minor) by stretching and self-myofascial release (foam rolling) and strengthening the weak muscles (example: rhomboids) with resistance training. Once muscle imbalances are corrected, stress on the joints is alleviated, muscle groups work together properly, and the risk of injury is reduced.
It can be challenging for many people to know what exactly they should be doing in a gym environment. This is a great opportunity to meet with a personal trainer for a completely individualized fitness plan. You can even get a few friends together for small group training. Not only is small group training fun, but having friends motivate each other is one of the best ways to achieve fitness success.