150 Minutes Per Week

Are you devoting 150 minutes per week to exercise?  According to the new 2011 exercise recommendations (1) from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), there are a bunch of new exercises that can help us keep physically fit.

Functional training

The ACSM suggests integrating “functional fitness” — training that includes motor skills, such as balance, coordination, agility and flexibility such as yoga, pilates, or tai chi — around two-three days per week for 20-30 minutes (especially for older adults to prevent falls).  These neuromotor exercises can fit into a comprehensive routine for any age group.

Resistance training

The ACSM suggests training each major muscle group — two-three days each week.  The equipment can range from light resistance (bands, hand-weights and medicine balls) to heavy resistance (bench press, kettle-bells and smith machines).  The recommendations are to perform two-four sets of each exercise.  To improve strength and power, the ACSM recommends 8-12 repetitions (between the 8th and 12th repetition, the body should not be able to lift one more repetition).  For muscular endurance, the ACSM recommends 15-20 repetitions.

Flexibility training

The ACSM suggests incorporating flexibility training at least two-three times per week to improve range of motion.  Flexibility training can occur both before and after workouts, and as its own session (e.g., yoga).  This would include static stretching post-workout (holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds to two minutes), dynamic stretching pre-workout (functional-based warm-ups that help prepare the body for exercise, such as high-knees or lunge walking), and PNF stretches (proprioceptive muscular facilitation), which should be done with a coach or trainer to help push the stretch a little past what one is capable of performing alone.  The goal with performing flexibility exercises is to have the muscle already a little warm.  This is why static stretching is not recommended before a workout, since muscles are still cold.

Cardiovascular training

The ACSM recommends getting in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (2.5 hours) per week.  Choose one of the three ways per week to meet this recommendation:

  1. Moderate-intense cardiovascular activity ≥30 minutes per day, five days per week  (150 minutes)
  2. Vigorous-intense cardiovascular activity 20-60 minutes per day, three or more days per week (75 minutes)
  3. One continuous bout and multiple shorter bouts of exercise (at least 10 minutes) to accumulate total (75-150 minutes)


This last point, number three, is a good one for those who feel they are too busy to workout.  According to the ACSM, this last point means that a person can still hit the recommended 150 minutes per week by exercising for a longer amount of time when available and breaking it up into smaller pieces when strapped for time.

Summary: what to do every week

Cardiovascular training (aerobic exercise): 150 minutes (5 days per week, 30-60 minutes per day of moderate intensity), or at least 75 minutes (3 days per week, 20-60 minutes per day of vigorous intensity).

Resistance training (weight training): 2-3 days per week, 2 days between sessions, 2-4 sets per exercise, 8-12 reps per set or 15-20 reps per set.

Flexibility training (stretching): 2-3 days per week.

Functional training (pilates, yoga: 2-3 days per week, 20-30 minutes per day.

Sample fitness calendar

  Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Exercise Running or walking Weight training, stretch after Cycling, stretch after Weight training, stretch after Pilates or yoga Running  or walking OFF
Minutes 30 minutes 30 minutes 45 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 20 minutes  

Total: 95 minutes cardio, 2 days strength training, 1 functional exercise, stretching throughout the week.


Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Garber, C.E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M.R., et al. America College of Sports Medicine, Indianapolis, IN. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011 July; 4(7): 1334 -1359.


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