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

How much exercise do you *really* need to get in shape?

Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?

And how much is too much?

Do you need to sweat for an hour or more every day?


We will go over the mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness. Ideal for getting into shape.  A great doctor once told me, "The best lotion is motion".

In other words, we need to keep moving!  We met Patricia Bragg in Santa Barbara and she stated that one of the key reasons she is so vibrant and healthy is because she is so physically active!  She said even while standing still you can keep marching in place! So, don't stop moving!

However, let us start with the minimum.


You’re going to have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there is no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may affect your motivation, and you might stop before even really getting started.

So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend “5 to 10 minutes" every other day at a level you think you can do?” How does that sound as a starting point?

This would be do-able!


If you’re not training for a competition, you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this plan.

Ideally, it’s going to get longer.... eventually.  However, that time is going to pass anyway, so when the next season comes around wouldn’t you want to be proud of your improved strength and fitness?

Yes, I thought so!


Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. Ultimately, 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:

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 farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition. 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 motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.

After several weeks you can stop and evaluate. Keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger, and more fit!


While exercise is very important for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.

Some of my favorite  powerful simple tips are:


You don’t need to torture yourself and exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! In fact, you can do more harm than good!

But you do need to do the following:



Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.

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