How Often Do I Need to Exercise Before I See the Benefits of Working Out?

close up of purple barbells
Here's a look at the benefits you can expect to experience while making exercise a part of your regular routine.

by Autumn Jones

Think you have to practically live at the gym to see the benefits of working out? Well, think again!

That's right; that notion is nothing but a rumor. The truth is, your body can see results from just one sweat session.

Making fitness a part of your weekly schedule is the best way to enhance your well-being, but even one visit to the gym is a step in the right direction. Here's a look at the benefits you can experience while making exercise a part of your regular routine.

After 1 Sweat Session

Researchers found that all it takes for an individual to significantly boost their mood is one 20-minute jog, according to a study published in the Journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills. The best part is, you don't have to "go hard" for those positive effects to kick in — intensity did not play a role in participants experiencing an elevated mood post-exercise!

"Some health benefits begin immediately after exercising, and even short episodes or small amounts of physical activity are beneficial," according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. To sweeten the pot even more, after just one workout, you'll be more alert and focused, your blood pressure will be lower for up to 16 hours, and you'll start to build lean muscle.

Exercising 1 Day a Week

With all those incredible aftereffects from one workout, why not aim to experience all that goodness on a weekly basis? If working out is only in the cards for you one day per week, you can make that one day work for you.

As Psychology Today points out, instead of focusing on the total number of days at the gym, consider the minutes needed to enjoy the fruits of your fitness labor. This means looking at the total recommended time for a week's worth of physical activity — which is 150 minutes — and using your one day a week to hit that mark.

That said, don't stress about spending over two hours at the gym! You can divide up the time throughout your day with different forms of physical activity. A brisk walk, a short bike ride, mowing the lawn, and even vigorous house cleaning count as moderately intense exercise, the Harvard School of Public Health notes.

Exercising 2 Days a Week

According to Business Insider, "At the very start of a strength training program, some people see significant improvement working out two days a week." This is encouraging news if you have limited time during the week and want to focus on your fitness over the weekend.

To add on to the benefits of working out, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that people who exercised two days a week effectively lowered their risk of developing cancer and heart disease, compared to those who didn't exercise at all.

Exercising 3 Days a Week

Looking to meet that 150 minutes of recommended exercise over a few days? Well, getting to the gym three times a week means shorter workouts with more long-term bonuses! According to Mayo Clinic, creating a regular exercise routine means increasing your energy levels, boosting self-esteem, lowering stress, and reducing your risk for disease.

Tips for Best Results

Be Consistent: Missing a workout here and there is OK, but sticking with a regular fitness schedule as much as possible will help your body benefit from all the goodness you create when you get moving!

Don't Compare: It's important to go at your own pace and listen to your body when creating a workout routine. No one shares the same fitness journey, so make your exercise your own and don't compare what you're doing to others.

Connect With Others: Whether or not you have a real life cheerleading squad, you can always find a thriving tribe of supporters online at Planet of Triumphs. Remember, the most important thing is to get your body moving — and whenever you can make that happen, it's a win!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.