If you’re not currently exercising on a regular basis, but you’re interested in the benefits, you may be wondering exactly how much effort you need to spend before you start feeling a difference. Many newcomers to the health and fitness world get intimidated when they don’t see results after a couple of days of vigorous exercise. But the reality is, it takes weeks, and sometimes months, before you’ll start to see a noticeable impact on your physical health.
How long, exactly, do you have to work out before you start seeing the benefits?
Time Spent Working Out
First, let’s explain what we mean by time spent working out. There’s the time that you spend in an individual workout session, but there’s also the amount of days you spend exercising. For example, an individual workout session may only be 10 minutes, but if you work out every day, that could add up to a massive benefit. By contrast, a hefty 2-hour workout session might push you to your physical limit, but if that’s the only exercise you get all week, it may not do much for you.
The Benefits to Consider
We also need to consider that there are several different benefits that you can see from exercising regularly. These benefits start rolling out immediately, but you’ll need to exercise for a longer period of time to see some of them.
- Self-confidence. You may see a rise in self-confidence the moment you start working out. You’ll feel good about yourself for hitting the gym or challenging yourself at home. The endorphin rush you get from strenuous exercise will also boost your mood, making you feel good about yourself and helping you see the world in a totally different light. As you continue exercising across various sessions, and you start seeing the physical impact of your workouts, this benefit will be even more apparent.
- Weight loss. You won’t be able to see any weight loss in the immediate aftermath of your first few workout sessions, no matter how much time or effort you spend in those sessions. Weight loss can be complicated and it’s not always a straightforward path. Depending on your current weight, your diet, and how much you’re exercising, you may be able to lose a few pounds in your first week of exercise. If you’re after a bigger physical change, expect it to take several weeks or a few months of exercise and lifestyle changes.
- Cardiovascular health benefits. Research shows that you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke with as little as 2.5 hours of moderate exercise and 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise per week. That’s only about a half hour per day, total. You should know that to maintain these benefits, you’ll need to keep exercising indefinitely.
- Strength gains. What about gains in strength? If you’re starting with no weightlifting experience, your first few sessions are going to be very difficult, and you might be sore for several days following them. But after you recover, you may notice a difference in your strength and muscle mass, witnessing small gains after only a couple of weeks. Strength gains tend to be very rapid at first, plateauing over time.
- Stamina increases. Stamina works mostly the same way. If you can’t run a full mile without stopping, after just a week or two of consistent running, you may find yourself able to finish that mile in one session.
- Longevity. Working out on a regular basis has the power to improve your longevity, maximizing your lifespan. But how long do you have to work out in order to see these benefits? Research shows set as little as 11 minutes of exercise every day is enough to help you live longer, provided you do it consistently enough.
Additional Factors to Consider
Health and fitness is a complicated subject, so we can’t make universal claims that apply to every individual experience. There are countless factors that can influence your goal progress and the amount of time you need to spend working out.
- Intensity. There’s a big difference between a 1-hour walk around the block and an hour of heavy weightlifting. Your intensity has a major impact on the benefits you derive from the exercise.
- Form. Your form also matters. Proper exercise is necessary to maximize the benefits you get from your physical activity – and to reduce your chances of injury.
- Personal training/coaching. Having a personal trainer can help you in multiple ways, ensuring you get the most out of all your workouts and helping you prevent certain problems.
- Diet. If you’re not eating properly, your exercise benefits could stagnate. For example, if you eat too many calories, no amount of exercise will be enough to help you lose weight.
- Rest. Your body needs to rest and recover from strenuous exercise. If you push yourself too hard, additional exercise may do more harm than good.
- Other lifestyle factors. Other lifestyle factors, including your alcohol consumption, sleeping patterns, and tobacco consumption can also influence how exercise affects you.
The Bottom Line: How Long Do You Have to Work Out to Start Seeing Benefits?
Here’s the bottom line: you can start seeing some of the benefits of working out immediately, even during the workout itself. But if you’re looking to lose weight or build a lot of strength, it’s going to take weeks to months of consistent effort before you notice an impact.
That said, there are a lot of variables that can impact your progress. Better understanding those variables and staying motivated will both help you on your fitness journey. And the best way to accomplish both of those objectives is to hire a personal trainer to coach you. If you’re interested in learning more about how personal training can help you, or if you’re ready to schedule a session, contact me today!
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!